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BRUSSELS, July 12, 2018 (News Wires) — President Donald Trump renewed his pressure tactics on fellow NATO nations to increase their defence spending on Thursday, hammering US allies on Twitter as he attended a second day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance.

Trump, in a series of tweets from Brussels, said that, "Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia."

He complained the United States "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidise Europe" and demanded that member nations meet their pledge to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence, which "must ultimately go to 4 Per cent!"

Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the NATO summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defence spending.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russia, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russia.

He continued the attack on Thursday, complaining that, "Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia."

"Not acceptable!" he railed before arriving late at NATO headquarters for a morning of meetings that will include talks with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia. In the afternoon, he heads to his next stop: the United Kingdom.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, echoed Trump's rhetoric, telling Fox Business Network that "Germany is a tremendous problem, both for Europe itself, and for the United States in this sense."

"What's more surprising, the fact that the President Trump is calling them out on that or that previous presidents haven't?" he asked. "It's really extraordinary that Donald Trump has to be the person to point out that the emperor in Europe has no clothes."

The tough rhetoric against a core ally comes just days before Trump is set to meet one-on-one with Putin in Finland.

With scorching language, Trump questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: "What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?"

During the meetings, he demanded via tweet that NATO countries "Must pay 2 per cent of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025" and then rattled them further by privately suggesting member nations should spend 4 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence — a bigger share than even the United States currently pays, according to NATO statistics.

It was the most recent in a series of demands and insults that critics fear will undermine a decades-old alliance launched to counterbalance Soviet aggressions. And it comes just days before Trump sits down with Putin at the conclusion of his closely watched European trip.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defence, accusing Europe of freeloading off the US and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence if they were ever attacked.

He described the current situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States."


From Brussels, Trump heads to England, where May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

Although administration officials point to the long-standing alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump's itinerary will largely keep him out of central London, where significant protests are expected.

Instead, a series of events — a black-tie dinner with business leaders, a meeting with May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II — will happen outside the bustling city, where Mayor Sadiq Khan has been in a verbal battle with Trump.

Woody Johnson, the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, dismissed the significance of the protests, telling Fox News that one of the reasons the two countries are so close "is because we have the freedoms that we've all fought for. And one of the freedoms we have is freedom of speech and the freedom to express your views. And I know that's valued very highly over here and people can disagree strongly and still go out to dinner."

He also said that meeting the queen would be an experience that Trump "will really cherish."

BRUSSELS, April 27, 2018 (AP) — Less than 24 hours after assuming his post, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plunged Friday into NATO diplomacy as the allies sought to toughen their response to Russian interference on its periphery and elsewhere.

On his first overseas trip as America's top diplomat, Pompeo hit the ground running with a series of meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels aimed at underscoring the alliance's relevance in a crisis-filled global environment that includes persistent or worsening conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine.

"The work that's being done here today is invaluable and our objectives are important and this mission means a lot to the United States of America," Pompeo told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. "The president very much wanted me to get here and I'm glad we were able to make it, and I look forward to a productive visit here today."

Pompeo's aim is to ensure that NATO maintains a unified position of "no business as usual" with Russia until it implements an agreement to end violence in eastern Ukraine and halts destabilizing actions for which it is blamed elsewhere, according to a senior U.S. official.

Those include the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain last month, support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government that is accused on launching a chemical weapons attack that led three NATO members — Britain, France and the U.S. — to launch airstrikes on Syrian targets.

At a breakfast meeting focused on Russia, NATO foreign ministers agreed on "the scale of Russian aggression" and that it "requires a response," according to the U.S. official, who was not authorized to discuss the closed-door meeting publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We are in a situation where we've not been before," Stoltenberg said after the meeting. "We're not in the old Cold War, but we're neither in the strategic partnership we were trying to build after the Cold War. So this is something new. Therefore it's even more important that we are able to combine, both to be strong and to have a clear position of unity in our approach to Russia but at the same time to keep the channels for dialogue open."

Friday's meetings will set the stage for a summit of NATO leaders in July at which they are expected to outline more specifics about the response to Russia. The alliance has been trying to hold a meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, which has not met since October 2017, before the July 11-12 summit but has been unable to arrange it.

Another of Pompeo's objectives in Brussels is to prod allies, particularly Germany, to meet their commitments to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024, according to the official.

That commitment was made in 2014 and thus far only six of the 28 countries who made the pledge meet the goal. Nine have produced realistic plans for reaching it by 2024, but the rest, including Germany, have not.

That spending level, frequently incorrectly referred to by U.S. President Donald Trump as a contribution to NATO itself, is particularly important given the allies' need to combat increased Russian aggression, according to the official.

The official said the U.S. delegation would make the point that NATO is more relevant today that at any point since the end of the Cold War.

Pompeo will also have separate talks with the foreign ministers of Italy and Turkey. Relations with the latter are notably strained. The senior official said one of Pompeo's main goals with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu is to refocus on coordination in northern Syria, where Turkey has been attacking Kurdish rebels supported by the U.S.

That coordination was started by Pompeo's predecessor, Rex Tillerson, who was fired by Trump last month, and had languished in the absence of a new secretary of state.

Pompeo will also renew calls for the release of a jailed American pastor accused by Turkey of espionage, and encourage Turkey not to pursue the purchase of an advanced air defense system from Russia.

From Brussels, Pompeo will travel on to the Middle East, visiting Saudi Arabia, Israel and Jordan, where the future of the Iran nuclear deal and the conflict in Syria will be significant agenda items, officials said.

Pompeo will arrive in Riyadh on Saturday ahead of a series of events that could potentially plunge the region into deeper disarray, including Trump's decision by May 12 on whether to pull out of the Iran deal, and the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem two days later. The embassy move is deeply opposed by the Palestinians, who on May 15 will mark the anniversary of what they term the "nabka," or catastrophe, when they fled or were driven from their homes during the 1948 Palestine war.

Looming over Pompeo's trip is uncertainty over Trump's policy on Syria, which has shifted between a speedy all-out withdrawal of American forces from the country and leaving a lasting footprint to deter Iran from completing a land bridge from Tehran to Beirut.

SANTIAGO, Chile, March 9, 2018 (News agencies) — A trade pact originally conceived by the United States to counter China’s growing economic might in Asia now has a new target: President Trump’s embrace of protectionism.

A group of 11 nations — including major United States allies like Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a broad trade deal late on Thursday in Chile’s capital, Santiago, that challenges Mr. Trump’s view of trade as a zero-sum game filled with winners and losers.

Covering 500 million people on either side of the Pacific Ocean, the pact represents a new vision for global trade as the United States imposes steel and aluminum tariffs on even some of its closest friends.

Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from an earlier version of the agreement, then known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a year ago as one of his first acts in office. The resuscitated deal is undeniably weaker without the participation of the world’s biggest economy, but it serves as a powerful sign of how countries that have previously counted on American leadership are now forging ahead without it.

“Globally, there has been an increasing level of uncertainty, given the adoption of policies and measures by some key players that question the principles that have contributed to generating prosperity for our peoples,” President Michelle Bachelet of Chile said in a speech shortly before the pact was signed. “We need to stay on the course of globalization, yet learning from our past mistakes.”

BRUSSELS March 2, 2018 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin's warnings to NATO allies are "unacceptable" and do not help efforts to calm tensions, the alliance said on Friday, a day after the Russian leader announced an array of new nuclear weapons.

"Russian statements threatening to target allies are unacceptable and counterproductive," NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said in a statement.

"We do not want a new Cold War or a new arms race," she said, also adding that NATO's US-built missile defense system in Europe was not aimed at Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed the notion that a “new Cold War” situation, after he unveiled at his annual state of the nation address earlier Thursday that Russia had created new nuclear-capable weapons.

In her second-ever interview with the Russian leader, NBC anchor Megyn Kelly pressed Putin about the new weapons. She pointed out that some experts have suggested a new period of tense relations, not unlike the post-World War II era, has sprung between Russia and the US.

“My point of view is that the individuals that have said that a new Cold War has started are not really analysts,” Putin told Kelly. “They do

When asked about the prospect of a new arms race, Putin denied one exists but said that, if there was one, it began in 2002 when the U.S. pulled out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which barred nationwide missile defenses.

“If we are to speak of an arms race, then an arms race started precisely at that point,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, Putin announced that Russia had created hypersonic nuclear weapons systems that could circumvent Western missile defenses. He claimed the weapons were needed because missile defense interceptors had expanded in the U.S., Europe, and Southeast Asia.

He also showed a video that appeared to display images of nuclear missiles aimed for the U.S.

In his interview with Kelly, Putin pushed back on claims from analysts who have suggested that tests of the nuclear-powered intercontinental ballistic missile have failed, which is why animations were shown on Thursday, rather than actual footage.

"Every single weapons system that I have discussed today easily surpasses and avoids an anti-missile defense system," Putin told Kelly. He noted that "some of them still have to be fine-tuned and worked on. Others are already available to the troops and battle-ready."