TRUMP’S TOUGH NATO, EU TALKS

The United States pres­i­dent is set to press al­lies to do more on ter­ror­ism

New Straits Times - - World -

DON­ALD Trump met NATO and EU lead­ers for the first time yes­ter­day, with the United States pres­i­dent set to press ner­vous al­lies to do more on ter­ror­ism af­ter the Manch­ester bomb­ing.

Trump faced protests on his ar­rival in Brussels, but he re­ceived a red-car­pet wel­come from Western al­lies ea­ger to per­suade him that his ear­lier crit­i­cisms of them were mis­placed.

NATO, which Trump on the cam­paign trail dis­missed as “ob­so­lete” for fo­cus­ing on Rus­sia in­stead of ter­ror­ism, is set to bow to his de­mands that it join the US-led coali­tion against the Is­lamic State.

“This will send a strong po­lit­i­cal mes­sage of NATO’s com­mit­ment to the fight against ter­ror­ism,” Nato sec­re­tary-gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg told a press con­fer­ence ahead of the sum­mit.

Trump’s en­tourage, how­ever, warned that the bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent would once again press the 28-na­tion al­liance to pay their full share of the al­liance’s fi­nan­cial bur­den.

“I think you can ex­pect the pres­i­dent to be very tough on them,” Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son said.

Brussels could be the tough­est leg yet of the first for­eign trip for Trump, who came di­rectly from a meet­ing with Pope Fran­cis at the Vat­i­can.

On his ar­rival on Wed­nes­day in Brussels, the city he once said had been turned into a “hell­hole” by Mus­lim im­mi­gra­tion, the pres­i­dent was greeted by thou­sands of pro­test­ers say­ing “Trump not wel­come”.

Fur­ther protests were ex­pected yes­ter­day and se­cu­rity was tight across the city with he­li­copters fly­ing over­head and key roads shut down.

The EU, cred­ited like NATO with keep­ing the peace in Europe since World War II, will also be hop­ing to con­vince Trump that it re­mains rel­e­vant.

EU Pres­i­dent Don­ald Tusk, who will meet Trump along with Euro­pean Com­mis­sion chief Jean-Claude Juncker, tweeted that “I’ll aim to con­vince POTUS that Euro-At­lanti­cism means the free world co-op­er­at­ing to pre­vent (a) post-West world or­der”.

Trump alarmed the EU by back­ing fur­ther coun­tries to fol­low Bri­tain’s lead in quit­ting the bloc, and by calling it a ve­hi­cle for Ger­man dom­i­nance of the con­ti­nent.

Tusk and Juncker will tell the US pres­i­dent that since last year’s shock Brexit vote, the EU is “in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent place” af­ter pop­ulist can­di­dates lost in France and the Nether­lands, a se­nior EU of­fi­cial says.

Trump showed his de­ter­mined stance on ter­ror­ism as he met Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel shortly af­ter his ar­rival on Wed­nes­day night, say­ing that the most im­por­tant is­sue was ter­ror­ism af­ter the “hor­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion” in Manch­ester.

“When you see some­thing like what hap­pened a few days ago you re­alise how im­por­tant it is to win this fight. And we will win this fight,” said Trump. AFP

AFP PIC

Peo­ple car­ry­ing ef­fi­gies of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Bel­gian Prime Min­is­ter Charles Michel dur­ing a de­mon­stra­tion against the US pres­i­dent in Brussels on Wed­nes­day.

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