WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump traveled to Brussels Tuesday for a NATO summit at its new headquarters.
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) July 10, 2018
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Theresa May will join Trump for the two-day meeting, which comes during divisions among the US and its allies over policies on trade and pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal.
"Dear America, appreciate your allies. After all, you don't have that many," warned European Council President Donald Tusk. "America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe."
Trump replied, "Well, we do have a lot of allies, but we cannot be taken advantage of."
The president touted that the US lost $151 billion last year on trade and slapped tariffs on other countries in an effort towards free and fair trade. The EU did strike back with retaliatory tariffs on US goods.
"We're being taken advantage of by the European Union," Trump said. "We spend at least 70 percent for NATO, and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us."
Trump is expected to argue again overseas that NATO allies also fail to spend enough on their defense budget. Tusk said that he did urge European allies to increase spending per their promises.
"Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China and I think you have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russia or Chinese spending," Tusk said.
During the president's seven-day tour through Europe, he plans to stop in Helsinki on July 16 for a meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
"I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin," Trump said. "Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all."
Trump has said maintaining a strong personal relationship with Putin is in America's interest and has signaled to allies that he trusts his own instincts in dealing with Russia's president.
When asked if Putin was a friend or foe, Trump replied, "I really can't say right now – as far as I'm concerned, a competitor."