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Sunday July 22nd, 2018 10:16PM

The Latest: Trump arrives at NATO headquarters for talks

By The Associated Press
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BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's trip to Europe (all times local):

1 p.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at NATO headquarters in Brussels for the first of two days of summit talks with allies.

Trump is planning to press his counterparts to increase their spending on defense, having publicly criticized many European nations for failing to meet their commitments to the mutual defense pact.

Leaders of the alliance are set to discuss their collective readiness, as well as the future of NATO's mission in Afghanistan and combating terrorism.

Trump is also set to meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the meeting.

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12:50 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is defending her country's independence following comments from President Donald Trump suggesting that Berlin was operating under Russian influence.

Heading into a NATO meeting in Brussels, Merkel noted that she had grown up in communist East Germany.

Without mentioning Trump's comments specifically, she told reporters Wednesday: "I've experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union and I'm very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that's very good."

Earlier, Trump had suggested that because of a new pipeline deal to bring more Russian gas to Germany, "Germany as far as I'm concerned is captive to Russia."

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12 p.m.

President Donald Trump is set to meet Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, hours after he publicly claimed that the longtime U.S. ally is "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump will reiterate his public criticism of Merkel during their pull-aside on the margins of the NATO summit in Brussels.

Trump fumed during a Wednesday meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that a Russian natural gas pipeline project in Germany is "very inappropriate" as he criticized European countries' contributions to the mutual-defense alliance.

Sanders says Trump will also meet Wednesday with French President Emmanuel Macron.

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11:20 a.m.

Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II will welcome President Donald Trump and his wife Melania at Windsor Castle where they will watch a military march before having tea on Friday.

The palace said Wednesday the president will be greeted by an honor guard formed of the Coldstream Guards and will receive a royal salute before the U.S. national anthem is played.

Trump and the queen will review the honor guard before watching a military parade. Trump and his wife will then have tea with the queen inside the castle.

The palace did not specify if the queen's husband Prince Philip would attend. The 97-year-old Philip has retired from public duties but sometimes appears in public with the queen.

The visit is part of Trump's first trip to Britain since becoming president.

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump is asserting that Germany is "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia" over a pipeline project during a testy breakfast with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg).

Trump is taking issue with the U.S. protecting Germany when the European nation is making energy deals with Russia.

The president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would double the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany, skirting transit countries such as Ukraine. The project is opposed by the U.S. and some other EU members.

Trump says of Germany: "We're supposed to protect you against Russia" and yet you make this deal with Russia.

Stoltenberg pushed back, stressing that NATO members have been able to work together despite their differences.

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9:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump is pressing NATO allies to bolster their defense spending as he opens talks with leaders of the military alliance. Trump says the disproportionate defense spending an "unfair burden on the United States."

Trump says at the start of his meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that "because of me" NATO has raised more than $40 billion in defense spending.

Trump says, "So I think the secretary general likes Trump. He may be the only one but that's OK with me."

The U.S. president has called upon NATO allies to meet commitments to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

Stoltenberg says "a strong NATO is good for Europe."

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8:55 a.m.

President Donald Trump is meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL'-tehn-burg) at the start of a summit of the military alliance.

Trump is expected to continue questioning wary NATO allies about their military spending during talks in Brussels.

He tweeted en route from Washington that European counties "want us to happily defend them through NATO, and nicely pay for it. Just doesn't work!"

Trump's day will include a welcome ceremony, a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and a working dinner with some of the same leaders he berated over trade during his last world leaders' summit in Canada last month.

Brussels is the first stop of a weeklong European tour that will include stops in the United Kingdom and a meeting in Helsinki with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

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