Donald Trump has arrived in Brussels for the NATO summit.
He’s made his feelings on NATO spending clear in a series of tweets criticising the European Union and NATO countries for not spending enough on defence and expecting the US to chip in.
“Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting - NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!” he wrote last night.
In subsequent tweets he asked if the countries would “reimburse” the US, and took a negative stance on the EU’s trading regulations.
“Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?” he wrote.
Criticised the EU
Another tweet read: “The European Union makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe (U.S. has a $151 Billion trade deficit), and then they want us to happily defend them through NATO, and nicely pay for it. Just doesn’t work!”
After attending the NATO summit, he’ll visit the UK where he’s scheduled to meet Theresa May and the Queen, before heading to Helsinki to meet Russian premier Vladimir Putin.
He told press that “Putin might be the easiest of them all”.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, retaliated with a warning: “America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don’t have that many,” he said.
Theresa May promises extra troops
Theresa May has committed to 440 additional troops in Afghanistan amid the pressure from Trump.
She added that the UK had met its spending requirements.
"The alliance can rely on the UK to lead by example, not just in meeting the 2% pledge but by contributing our cutting edge capabilities to operations around the world," she said.
"In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when Nato calls the UK is among the first to answer."
Trump’s willingness to meet the Russian president unnerved some in the diplomatic community at a time when May has been seeking to isolate Moscow over the Salisbury nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
Nerve agent Novichok has since claimed the life of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess.
Trump ‘loves dictators’
US journalist Alan Friedman, who describes himself as part of “the resistance” against Trump, told Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show that Trump “loves dictators… because he wants to be one”.
But Sarah Elliot, chair of Republicans Overseas UK, said that his comments were part of his stance as a "distruptor". "Everyone has to take [what he says] with a grain of salt, he's here to be a disruptor," she said.
"I think he'll be incredibly supportive of NATO. He backed out of the Iran deal but he hasn't backed out of NATO."
She added that there was "no doubt" about his commitment to NATO, and that his comments were nothing more than "political positioning".
The president also ruffled feathers with decidedly undiplomatic remarks before leaving Washington, saying Britain was in "turmoil" and that it was "up to the people" whether they wanted to keep Mrs May as Prime Minister.
He also suggested he could find time to talk to his "friend" Boris Johnson, who has just rocked the Government with his resignation over May's Brexit plans.