cloudy
Tuesday November 20th, 2018 6:41AM
6:40AM ( 1 minute ago ) Radio Alert

Trump heads to Europe, says Putin 'easiest' of his meetings

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Donald Trump launched a weeklong Europe trip Tuesday with harsh criticism for NATO allies and predicted the "easiest" leg of his journey would be his scheduled sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

As he departed the White House for a four-nation European tour, Trump did little to reassure allies fretting over the risk of damage he could do to the 69-year-old trans-Atlantic mutual defense pact and his potential embrace of Putin during a summit in Helsinki.

Trump said Tuesday he "can't say right now" if Putin is a friend or foe, but called him a "competitor." The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to boost Trump's candidacy, and warns of further attempts at interference both in the 2018 midterms and in European elections.

Speaking to reporters before leaving Washington for Brussels, where he is to attend the NATO summit, Trump criticized the pact, saying, "Frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us."

Trump has been pressing NATO countries to fulfill their goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense by 2024. During his presidential campaign, he suggested he might only come to the defense of NATO nations that fulfilled their obligation. He continues to criticize NATO countries for not paying their fair share.

From Belgium, Trump's trip will also take him to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in a message to Trump that "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem." Tusk recalled that the Europeans are spending more than Russia and as much as China on defense. NATO estimates that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on current trends.

"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," Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, adding: "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)!"

On Monday he'd tweeted the situation was "not fair, nor is it acceptable," and insisted that NATO benefits Europe "far more than it does the U.S."

He added: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!"

Trump, who has compared the sentiment that underpinned the Brexit vote to leave the EU to his own election, will be making his maiden presidential trip to Britain at a fraught time for May. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned within hours of each other in protest of her plan. Trump said might meet with Johnson in the UK despite his resignation.

Trump's visit is expected to attract large protests in London and elsewhere in Britain.

Trump's weeklong trip to Europe will continue with a stop in Scotland before ending with a sit-down in Helsinki with Putin.

He said that of the high-stakes meetings of his trip, "Putin may be the easiest of them all."

"I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing," he added.

The meeting will be closely watched to see whether Trump will rebuke or embrace Putin, who has repeatedly denied the allegations of election meddling, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

___

Colvin reported from Washington. AP writer Zeke Miller contributed from Washington.

___

Follow Colvin and Lemire on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj and https://twitter.com/JonLemire

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
How Apple's app store changed our world
How Apple's app store changed our world
9:11AM ( 7 minutes ago )
Trump heads to Europe, says Putin 'easiest' of his meetings
President Donald Trump launched a weeklong Europe trip Tuesday with harsh criticism for NATO allies and predicted the "easiest" leg of his journey would be his scheduled sit-down with Russian President Vladimir Putin
9:09AM ( 8 minutes ago )
China lets Nobel widow leave for Berlin after house arrest
China lets widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo leave house arrest and travel to Berlin
9:02AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: All 12 boys, their coach rescued from Thai cave
Thailand's navy SEALs say all 12 boys and their soccer coach have been rescued from a flooded cave in far northern Thailand, ending an ordeal that lasted more than two weeks
8:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: 3 ambulances leave Thai cave site
Three ambulances, lights flashing, have been seen leaving the site of the flooded Thai cave where rescuers are involved in an all-out effort to rescue members of a youth soccer team and their coach trapped deep within
7:35AM ( 1 hour ago )
Stormy Daniels' strip club act bookends Trump's court reveal
Stormy Daniels is Donald Trump's opener and closer Monday night, stripping near the White House
7:28AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Rescuers comb through mud for Japan flood victims; 134 dead
Japan rescuers search for dozens missing in flooding and landslides as death toll climbs above 130
5:15AM ( 4 hours ago )
3rd mission underway at Thai cave, aims to rescue all left
Divers are carrying out what they hope is a final mission to save four boys and their soccer coach in a flooded Thai cave, as the eight rescued earlier got a chocolate treat and were described as in good spirits
5:09AM ( 4 hours ago )
China frees Nobel widow from house arrest that drew outcry
China allowed the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo to be freed from house arrest and leave for Berlin, ending an eight-year ordeal that drove poet Liu Xia into depression
4:29AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
The Latest: Liberals rally on court steps against Kavanaugh
Democratic lawmakers and liberal groups are holding a raucous late-night rally on the steps of the Supreme Court to oppose President Trump's nominee, Brett Kavanaugh
10:58PM ( 10 hours ago )
Groups mobilize against threat to Oregon's 'sanctuary' law
Immigrant rights groups, law enforcement and faith leaders are mobilizing against a measure that would repeal Oregon's sanctuary state law as its supporters wait to see if Initiative Petition 22 will qualify for the November ballot
7:59PM ( 13 hours ago )
Erdogan inaugurates Turkey's powerful executive presidency
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been sworn in under a new governing system that grants him sweeping executive powers, which critics say give him far too much control
2:53PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Elections
How the trade war is changing minds in a Senate battleground
President Donald Trump's trade policies are threatening the Tennessee economy and roiling some pivotal Senate races in GOP-leaning states where candidates have backed him on almost every other major issue
11:04AM ( 2 days ago )
Trump weighs 2 or 3 candidates for court, to meet with Pence
President Donald Trump says he's wrapped up interviews with Supreme Court candidates and trimmed his short list to 3, maybe 2.
4:17PM ( 3 days ago )
Trump weighs mulls 2 or 3 for court, to meet with Pence
President Donald Trump says he's wrapped up interviews with Supreme Court candidates and trimmed his short list to 3, maybe 2.
11:09AM ( 3 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
How Apple's app store changed our world
How Apple's app store changed our world
9:11AM ( 7 minutes ago )
China lets Nobel widow leave for Berlin after house arrest
China lets widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo leave house arrest and travel to Berlin
9:02AM ( 16 minutes ago )
Many out of power, water in flood-hit Japan; over 150 dead
Japan rescuers search for dozens missing in flooding and landslides as death toll climbs above 130
8:48AM ( 29 minutes ago )
UK prime minister fights to stop Cabinet exodus over Brexit
British Prime Minister Theresa May has met with her Cabinet as she tries to restore government unity after the resignations of two top ministers over Brexit
8:47AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Trump heads to Europe to face nervous NATO leaders
President Donald Trump departed Tuesday on a four-nation European tour that has allies fretting over the risk of damage he could do to the decades-old NATO alliance
8:37AM ( 40 minutes ago )