Trump to attend NATO summit in London, days before UK vote

AFP – November 16, 2019

Trump to attend NATO summit in London: US President Donald Trump will visit Britain for NATO´s 70th anniversary summit next month

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will visit Britain for NATO´s 70th anniversary summit next month, the White House said Friday, in a trip falling days before the country votes in a general election.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to retain power in the December 12 election that has been dominated by Brexit — a hugely divisive plan for which Trump has voiced strong support.

The president, who backs a “no deal” Brexit, has already roiled the election campaign by suggesting last month that the terms of Johnson´s current EU divorce deal mean London could struggle to continue to trade with the US.

The White House said in a statement that Trump and First Lady Melania would visit Britain from December 2 to 4, attending the NATO gathering and a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.

Trump has repeatedly expressed unprecedented criticism of NATO for a US president. In addition, the summit will take place at a time of turmoil within the Western alliance.

French President Emmanuel Macron this week said the bloc was undergoing “brain death,” a claim that prompted a fierce response from German Chancellor Angela Merkel and others.

Merkel said his comments were “drastic” and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisting NATO was “important, critical.”

In a meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Macron´s statements “unacceptable.”

Erdogan´s visit to Washington also highlighted one of the many challenges facing the alliance: Turkey´s purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles.

The United States has ejected Turkey from the F-35 advanced stealth warplane program in retaliation.

Fireworks can also be expected over Trump´s sometimes bruising campaign to get other NATO members to increase defense budgets. The president complains bitterly that allies are too reliant on the US military´s security umbrella.

The White House said Trump would use the summit “to review the Alliance´s unprecedented progress on burden-sharing, including adding more than $100 billion in new defense spending since 2016.”

He will also emphasize NATO´s need to combat “the threats of tomorrow, including those emanating from cyberspace, those affecting our critical infrastructure and telecommunications networks, and those posed by terrorism,” the White House said.

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