Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 16th, 2018

Trump Heads to Europe, Says Putin ‘Easiest’ of His Meetings

Trump Heads to Europe, Says  Putin ‘Easiest’ of His Meetings

BRUSSELS — 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. (AP)