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May braces for spat with Donald Trump over defence at NATO summit

Awkward! Trump and May smile for the cameras at NATO summit in Brussels after he says Britain is in 'turmoil' over Brexit and demands she pumps more money into defence

  • Theresa May is attending a potentially stormy NATO summit in at the military alliance HQ in Brussels today
  • US president Donald Trump has been berating his NATO allies for failing to spend enough on defence
  • Mr Trump launched a furious diatribe at Germany for being too reliant on Russia for its energy supplies 
  • The Prime Minister has committed more troops for Afghanistan and highlighted the size of UK budgets

By James Tapsfield, Political Editor For Mailonline

Published: 03:22 EDT, 11 July 2018 | Updated: 12:22 EDT, 11 July 2018

Theresa May and Donald Trump smiled awkwardly for the cameras today as they met up at the NATO summit in Brussels.

The PM and the US president posed together despite his jibe that Britain is in 'turmoil' over Brexit and suggestion he will meet Boris Johnson when he comes to the UK.

Mr Trump has also been demanding the UK and other allies in the military alliance pump up spending on defence. 

The leaders did their best to show the Special Relationship is still in good health, chatting and laughing together at the 'family photo' for leaders. But there was one toe-curling moment as they first encountered each other and Mr Trump put out his hand to shake - only for the PM to turn and introduce him to new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Earlier, Mrs May insisted Britain is the 'first to step up' to military challenges as she arrived for the gathering - and pledged an extra 440 troops to the mission in Afghanistan. 

She also stressed that the UK is one of just six members of the alliance who hit the 2 per cent of GDP target for defence spending. 

The PM and the US president posed smiling together today despite his jibe that Britain is in 'turmoil' over Brexit and suggestion he will meet Boris Johnson when he comes to the UK
The PM and the US president posed smiling together today despite his jibe that Britain is in 'turmoil' over Brexit and suggestion he will meet Boris Johnson when he comes to the UK

The PM and the US president posed smiling together today despite his jibe that Britain is in 'turmoil' over Brexit and suggestion he will meet Boris Johnson when he comes to the UK

Mr Trump has also been demanding the UK and other allies in the military alliance pump up spending on defence
Mr Trump has also been demanding the UK and other allies in the military alliance pump up spending on defence

Mr Trump has also been demanding the UK and other allies in the military alliance pump up spending on defence

Mrs May and Mr Trump were seated next to each other as the summit working session began this afternoon
Mrs May and Mr Trump were seated next to each other as the summit working session began this afternoon

Mrs May and Mr Trump were seated next to each other as the summit working session began this afternoon

The two leaders were spotted chatting as the NATO members posed for a family photo in Brussels before the first working session
The two leaders were spotted chatting as the NATO members posed for a family photo in Brussels before the first working session

The two leaders were spotted chatting as the NATO members posed for a family photo in Brussels before the first working session

Mr Trump is due to come to the UK tomorrow night for his first visit as president after the summit wraps up in Belgium
Mr Trump is due to come to the UK tomorrow night for his first visit as president after the summit wraps up in Belgium

Mr Trump is due to come to the UK tomorrow night for his first visit as president after the summit wraps up in Belgium

The American leader leaned in for the greeting as they met at the summit, but the PM swerved and introduced him to her new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt instead.
The American leader leaned in for the greeting as they met at the summit, but the PM swerved and introduced him to her new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt instead.

The American leader leaned in for the greeting as they met at the summit, but the PM swerved and introduced him to her new Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt instead.

Donald Trump looked relaxed as he met with French President Emanuel Macron at the NATO summit today - the two famously get on well despite clashing on a number of policy issues 
Donald Trump looked relaxed as he met with French President Emanuel Macron at the NATO summit today - the two famously get on well despite clashing on a number of policy issues 

Donald Trump looked relaxed as he met with French President Emanuel Macron at the NATO summit today - the two famously get on well despite clashing on a number of policy issues 

Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron have met a number of times since they were both recently elected
Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron have met a number of times since they were both recently elected
Emmanuel Macron (pictured at NATO summit with Donald Trump) hosted the President at the Eiffel Tower when he visited France
Emmanuel Macron (pictured at NATO summit with Donald Trump) hosted the President at the Eiffel Tower when he visited France

The French President Emmanuel Macron grabbed Donald Trump at the NATO summit, where world leaders will discuss their military alliance and face a dressing down form the US over their military spending 

The UK is one of just six NATO member states that met the 2 per cent target for spending on defence last year
The UK is one of just six NATO member states that met the 2 per cent target for spending on defence last year

The UK is one of just six NATO member states that met the 2 per cent target for spending on defence last year

Mrs May told reporters at the NATO HQ: 'Nato is as vital to us today as it ever has been, and the UK's commitment to it remains as steadfast as ever.

'We lead by example, not only be meeting the NATO targets of spending 2 per cent of our GDP on defence, but also 20 per cent of our defence budget on equipment, and in the way in which we deploy thousands of armed forces personnel on Nato operations around the world every day.

'We are announcing today that we will be deploying an additional 440 personnel on NATO's support mission to Afghanistan. I think that shows that when NATO calls the UK is one of the first to step up.'  

US ambassador says Trump COULD meet Boris during UK trip 

US ambassador Woody Johnson has left the door open for a possible meeting between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump during the US president's visit to London. 

The ambassador said that while a meeting was not currently on Mr Trump's itinerary 'the President makes his own schedule', the day after the American leader said he may make time to meet his 'friend' the former foreign secretary. 

A meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Johnson, who quit on Monday over Theresa May's Chequers Brexit deal, is likely to prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister as she attempts to assert control over the warring Conservative Party. 

Woody Johnson was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today whether he would facilitate a meeting if asked. He replied: 'Yes. We will make everything possible - if the President wants to do something we will make it possible. 

'Boris Johnson has been a friend of the President, was a friend during the election of the President so I think he has a warm and close relationship with him.' 

Asked if this risked upsetting Mrs May, he added: 'I think you have to give all these protagonists, whether it's the Prime Minister or the President, a little leeway here. 

'If the President wants to do it and feels it is appropriate to do it, he will make that decision.' 

US defence secretary Jim Mattis has already warned that Britain risks its status as a major power unless it ups budgets. His UK counterpart Gavin Williamson has been pushing relentlessly for more money - but has so far been blanked by the Treasury.

Speaking alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltengerg in Brussels as the summit kicked off earlier today, Mr Trump said: 'Over the last year about 40billion US dollars more has been given by other countries to help Nato, but that's not nearly enough.

'The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough, especially some, so we are going to have a meeting on that.

'And the Secretary General has worked very hard on that, he understands the problem, and hopefully we can get a resolve.

'This has been going on for decades, for decades, and it is disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States.

'And we are going to make it fair.' 

Mr Trump set the tone for the two-day summit overnight with a brutal tweet reminding European leaders that the US spent 'many times more' on defence than any other member.

'Not fair to the US taxpayer,' he wrote, 'Nato countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS. Very Unfair!'

His intervention increased anxiety among European and Canadian leaders about Mr Trump's commitment to the alliance.

Last month the G7 summit in Quebec ended in acrimony as Mr Trump resisted a joint communique endorsing free trade. He eventually agreed a text - but then dramatically ditched it and lambasted Canadian PM Justin Trudeau.

There are also nerves that Mr Trump wants to strike a 'peace deal' with Vladimir Putin at a one-on-one meeting next week that could involve downgrading the US military presence in Europe.

Mr Trump ramped up his position by launching a blistering attack on Germany today, denouncing it as a 'captive' of Russia.

The US president said it was 'totally inappropriate' that Germany was paying billions of dollars to Russia for oil and gas while spending little more than 1 per cent of its GDP on defence.

He said the deal to build a new pipeline meant Germany was now 'totally controlled' by Moscow.

Speaking alongside Mr Stoltenberg, Mr Trump said: 'I think it is very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia. We are supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,' he said.

'We are protecting Germany, we are protecting France, we are protecting all of these countries, and then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they are paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia. I think that is very inappropriate.

'It should never have been allowed to happen. Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they will be getting 60 per cent to 70 per cent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline. You tell me if that's appropriate because I think it's not,' he said.

The premiers endured the regulation family photo parade before they kicked off the nitty gritty of the summit today
The premiers endured the regulation family photo parade before they kicked off the nitty gritty of the summit today

The premiers endured the regulation family photo parade before they kicked off the nitty gritty of the summit today

Mrs May donned sunglasses to watch a flypast with the US president and other leaders of NATO countries today
Mrs May donned sunglasses to watch a flypast with the US president and other leaders of NATO countries today

Mrs May donned sunglasses to watch a flypast with the US president and other leaders of NATO countries today

Mrs May was positioned alongside Mr Trump for the family photo of NATO leaders today at the Brussels summit
Mrs May was positioned alongside Mr Trump for the family photo of NATO leaders today at the Brussels summit

Mrs May was positioned alongside Mr Trump for the family photo of NATO leaders today at the Brussels summit

Mr Trump and Mrs May came face to face after he suggested the Uk was in 'turmoil' and joked that his meeting with Vladimir Putin might be 'easier'
Mr Trump and Mrs May came face to face after he suggested the Uk was in 'turmoil' and joked that his meeting with Vladimir Putin might be 'easier'

Mr Trump and Mrs May came face to face after he suggested the Uk was in 'turmoil' and joked that his meeting with Vladimir Putin might be 'easier'

Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump were also positioned close together at the family photo - shortly after he had lambasted Germany for being too reliant on Russian energy 
Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump were also positioned close together at the family photo - shortly after he had lambasted Germany for being too reliant on Russian energy 

Mrs Merkel and Mr Trump were also positioned close together at the family photo - shortly after he had lambasted Germany for being too reliant on Russian energy 

Mr Stoltenberg appeared to be taken aback by the ferocity of Mr Trump's onslaught, insisting other member states were committed to paying more, while acknowledging the need to go further.

'I think that two world wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart,' he said.

The president however pressed on, demanding the Germans increase their military spending 'immediately' rather than over a period of years.

'Germany is a rich country. They talk about they are going to increase it a tiny bit by 2030. They could increase it immediately tomorrow and have no problem. We are going to have to do something. We can't put up with it,' he said.

'Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear - they are getting so much of the oil and gas from Russia.'

Mr Trump's comments appeared to refer to the Nord Stream 2 undersea pipeline which will bring gas from Russia to Germany's Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations such as Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russia can send directly to Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hit back, saying that having experienced life in Soviet-controlled former East Germany, she was glad they could now 'determine our own policies and make our own decisions'.  

Mrs May and Mr Trump did seem on the same wavelength at times during the gathering at the NATO headquarters today
Mrs May and Mr Trump did seem on the same wavelength at times during the gathering at the NATO headquarters today

Mrs May and Mr Trump did seem on the same wavelength at times during the gathering at the NATO headquarters today

At one stage during the photocall at NATO HQ the Prime Minister seemed to be urging Mr Trump to simmer down
At one stage during the photocall at NATO HQ the Prime Minister seemed to be urging Mr Trump to simmer down

At one stage during the photocall at NATO HQ the Prime Minister seemed to be urging Mr Trump to simmer down

Donald Trump pressed his case for higher spending on defence today as he spoke to reporters in Brussels alongside NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg
Donald Trump pressed his case for higher spending on defence today as he spoke to reporters in Brussels alongside NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

Donald Trump pressed his case for higher spending on defence today as he spoke to reporters in Brussels alongside NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg

EU council president Donald Tusk responded to Mr Trump's jibe on Twitter last night
EU council president Donald Tusk responded to Mr Trump's jibe on Twitter last night

EU council president Donald Tusk responded to Mr Trump's jibe on Twitter about countries' spending levels last night

While the leaders had their dust-up about military spending, Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron 
While the leaders had their dust-up about military spending, Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron 

While the leaders had their dust-up about military spending, Melania Trump and Brigitte Macron 

The extra UK troops, from the Welsh Guards, will bolster the UK-led Kabul Security Force which provides protection for Nato civilian staff engaged in capacity-building programmes in Afghanistan, as well as mentoring Afghan forces in the capital.

They will begin deploying in August with a second contingent to follow in February taking the total UK military presence in the country to 1,100.

Asked if plans by some lagging nations to increase spending to 2 per cent by 2024 would 'satisfy' Mr Trump, the US ambassador to London Woody Johnson said: 'I doubt it, quite frankly. It's come down pretty dramatically since the Cold War when everyone was spending in excess of 3 per cent, and the world is not getting to be safer by the day. 

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'It's probably more challenging so I think the president recognises those challenges and recognises the concept of being prepared. 

'I don't think he feels that easing into it over the long term is the right way to go, but the president will make his own statements on that.' 

In a momentous week for Anglo-US relations, Mr Trump will follow his attendance at the Nato summit with his first visit as president to Britain before going on to hold talks with Mr Putin in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

Mr Trump vented his wrath at Germany during the summit - accusing Berlin of taking advantage of US military backup while relying on Russia for energy
Mr Trump vented his wrath at Germany during the summit - accusing Berlin of taking advantage of US military backup while relying on Russia for energy

Mr Trump vented his wrath at Germany during the summit - accusing Berlin of taking advantage of US military backup while relying on Russia for energy

His willingness to meet the Russian president comes despite Mrs May seeking to isolate Moscow over the Salisbury nerve agent attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia - which has since claimed the life of 44-year-old Dawn Sturgess.

The president risked a diplomatic spat before even leaving Washington, saying Britain was in 'turmoil' and that it was 'up to the people' whether they wanted to keep Mrs May as Prime Minister.

He also suggested he could find time to talk to his 'friend' Boris Johnson, who has just rocked the Government with his bombshell resignation over Mrs May's Brexit plans, and that he would find it easier dealing with Mr Putin than America's European allies.

'So I have Nato, I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of all', as he and his wife Melania prepared to board the Marine One presidential helicopter on the White House lawn.

Mrs May, for her part, insisted that she was looking forward to meeting the president, both in Brussels and when she hosts him in the UK.

'There's much for us to discuss.

'As you know, the special relationship we have to the United States is our longest and deepest defence and security relationship, so we will be talking about those issues but also talking about trade issues,' she told a press conference to mark the end of the Western Balkans summit in London.

'There are particular issues between the EU and the United States because of the trade tariff issue at the moment, when he imposed those tariffs on steel and aluminium and the EU responded.

'We will be talking positively about how we can continue to work together in our special relationship for the good of people living in the UK and the United States and, actually, for the wider good.'

President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir pictured in Danang, Vietnam in November, 2017.  Trump risked sparking a diplomatic incident by saying the UK is 'in turmoil' and his showdown with Vladimir Putin will be easier than meeting Theresa May
President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir pictured in Danang, Vietnam in November, 2017.  Trump risked sparking a diplomatic incident by saying the UK is 'in turmoil' and his showdown with Vladimir Putin will be easier than meeting Theresa May

President Trump and Russia's President Vladimir pictured in Danang, Vietnam in November, 2017.  Trump risked sparking a diplomatic incident by saying the UK is 'in turmoil' and his showdown with Vladimir Putin will be easier than meeting Theresa May

Theresa May (pictured in Brussels today) has attempted to draw the sting of criticism from Donald Trump by pledging an extra 440 troops to the mission in Afghanistan
Theresa May (pictured in Brussels today) has attempted to draw the sting of criticism from Donald Trump by pledging an extra 440 troops to the mission in Afghanistan

Theresa May (pictured in Brussels today) has attempted to draw the sting of criticism from Donald Trump by pledging an extra 440 troops to the mission in Afghanistan

US president Donald Trump arrived for the NATO summit in Belgium last night along with First Lady Melania
US president Donald Trump arrived for the NATO summit in Belgium last night along with First Lady Melania

US president Donald Trump arrived for the NATO summit in Belgium last night along with First Lady Melania

Mr Trump said yesterday that Boris Johnson (pictured  leaving his London home today) was a 'friend' and suggested he could meet up with him in the UK
Mr Trump said yesterday that Boris Johnson (pictured  leaving his London home today) was a 'friend' and suggested he could meet up with him in the UK

Mr Trump said yesterday that Boris Johnson (pictured  leaving his London home today) was a 'friend' and suggested he could meet up with him in the UK

Revealed - full details of Trump's UK trip: US president won't make ANY public appearances in London 

Donald Trump will not make any public appearances in London when he comes to the UK this week - amid a massive security operation.

The US president and First Lady Melania will touch down in Britain on Thursday for his first visit since entering the White House.

Huge protests have been threatened that could see 50,000 take to the streets of the capital, while a big orange 'Baby Trump' blimp has been given permission to fly. 

The bill for the American leader's three-day trip is expected to be around £30million as 10,000 police officers are deployed to keep the US commander-in-chief from trouble. 

Downing Street has revealed some details about the visit by Donald Trump and the First Lady to the UK this week
Downing Street has revealed some details about the visit by Donald Trump and the First Lady to the UK this week

Downing Street has revealed some details about the visit by Donald Trump and the First Lady to the UK this week

Sunbathers were given the shock of their lives on Monday afternoon as two v-22 Ospreys flew over Regent's Park as part of drills, sending grass and debris flying through the air
Sunbathers were given the shock of their lives on Monday afternoon as two v-22 Ospreys flew over Regent's Park as part of drills, sending grass and debris flying through the air

Sunbathers were given the shock of their lives on Monday afternoon as two v-22 Ospreys flew over Regent's Park as part of drills, sending grass and debris flying through the air

Trump's £1.2 million Cadillac 'The Beast' has been flown over in one of the world's largest military planes - the Super Galaxy C5.   

Meanwhile US Navy carrier, the gigantic USS Harry S Truman, will dock in the south coast as back up. 

The details of the long-awaited visit issued by Downing Street last week confirm that Mr Trump will spend only minimal time in London.

Instead he will be feted by Mrs May at a dinner for business leaders being held on Thursday night at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, the ancestral home of his hero Winston Churchill.

The next day he will have tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle and talks with the Prime Minister at her country retreat, Chequers.

Work has begun to set up a £30million 'ring of steel' around Regent's Park, where the US President will stay, in anticipation of widespread protests against the trip
Work has begun to set up a £30million 'ring of steel' around Regent's Park, where the US President will stay, in anticipation of widespread protests against the trip

Work has begun to set up a £30million 'ring of steel' around Regent's Park, where the US President will stay, in anticipation of widespread protests against the trip

Mrs Trump, meanwhile, will be given her own sightseeing tour, hosted by Theresa May's husband Philip.

It has also emerged that Mr Trump will spend the majority of his three-day trip in Scotland, where his mother was born and where he owns two golf courses. 

Downing Street denied the itinerary was deliberately designed to shield Mr Trump from the public.

A spokesman pointed out that several other leading figures had been hosted at Chequers in the past, including US presidents Richard Nixon and George W Bush, and, last year, French President Emmanuel Macron.  

 

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