Trump in Brussels for ‘tough’ Nato talks amid protests

Trump in Brussels for ‘tough’ Nato talks amid protests

Trump in Brussels for ‘tough’ Nato talks amid protests

Written by Staff Writer

25 May, 2017 | 4:24 pm

US President Donald Trump is in Brussels for what his team is describing as “tough” talks with other members of the Nato military alliance.

Nato has agreed to Mr Trump’s request to join the US-led coalition against so-called Islamic State.

But he may also press members to pay their full financial share.

Mr Trump has already met EU leaders. EU President Donald Tusk said they had agreed on “many areas” but had differences on Russia.

“I’m not 100% sure we can say that we have a common position, a common opinion on Russia, although when it comes to the conflict on Ukraine we were on the same line,” he said.

Earlier Mr Tusk tweeted: “I’ll aim to convince POTUS [President of the US] that euro-atlanticism means the free world co-operating to prevent post-West world order.”

After landing in Brussels on Wednesday, Mr Trump met the Belgian king and queen while thousands demonstrated against his presence in the centre of the city.

‘Strong political message’

The Nato gathering will see the alliance agree to a US plan for Nato to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamist militants, particularly jihadist group Islamic State (IS) – but France and Germany insist the move is mostly symbolic.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “Today we will decide to expand our support to the coalition with more Awacs [Airborne Warning and Control System] flight time, more information sharing and air-to-air refuelling.

“This will send a strong political message of Nato’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our co-ordination within the coalition but it does not mean that Nato will engage in combat operations.”

There are concerns that Nato joining the anti-IS coalition could lead to the alliance becoming embroiled in post-conflict Iraq or Libya as it did in Afghanistan, says the BBC’s Jonathan Marcus.

Mr Trump has voiced criticism of other Nato countries for spending less on defence than an agreed 2% of national output.

Ahead of Thursday’s meetings, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Mr Trump “really wants to persuade Nato members to step up and fully meet their obligations”.

He added: “I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them and say… ‘We are doing a lot. The American people are doing a lot for your security, for joint security. You need to make sure you’re doing your share for your own security as well.’

“That’s going to be the core of his message to Nato.”

Mr Tillerson also said President Trump had yet to make a final decision on whether the US would remain in the Paris climate agreement.

Before going to Nato HQ, where he will deliver a short speech, Mr Trump is due to have a private lunch with new French President Emmanuel Macron.

Mr Macron is expected to try to persuade Mr Trump not to renege on the Paris climate accord.

Courtesy: BBC

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