European peace activists march against Donald Trump's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation visit

Clay Curtis
July 9, 2018

U.S. AMBASSADOR to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison says "the overall theme" of this week's summit meeting in Brussels "is going to be NATO's strength and unity", which is what it ought to be. "I've heard nothing on that score". And we are standing behind them on that.

Beyer said Trump's recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore had fuelled concerns that Trump would let Putin "put one over on him", in Helsinki. Estimated 2017 defense spending as a percentage of GDP was 1.2% in Germany, Europe's biggest economy.

But Hutchinson, and the USA ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman, gave upbeat assessments of the upcoming meetings.

"We need to stick with our European allies, those in the EU, to challenge China", he said.

That, however, is not a reason to undermine the Atlantic alliance, particularly at a time when Germany and all other members are raising spending.

"It will become increasingly hard to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments", Trump said in a letter addressed to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg seen by Bloomberg News.

"I think the president will encourage Vladimir Putin to start changing their behavior to be - we'd like for Russian Federation to be an ally, a trading partner". Behind closed doors in Quebec, Mr. Trump berated the alliance as "as bad as NAFTA" and defended Russia's annexation of Crimea. The "Trump Not Welcome" march and a companion concert come as European and North American leaders prepare for an annual summit at NATO's Brussels headquarters.

Huntsman stressed the importance of going in to any meeting with Russian Federation "with eyes wide open".

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Woody Johnson, Trump's ambassador to the United Kingdom, said the president is aware of the planned protests but insisted that Trump "appreciates free speech" in both countries.

In recent weeks, Trump suggested withdrawing more than 25,000 US troops stationed in South Korea after trying to persuade Kim to rid his country of nuclear weapons.

Administration officials have also said that subjects discussed with Putin would include Syria, where the administration is looking for a political settlement that would allow the withdrawal of USA troops there.

However, the senator expressed confidence that Trump has a strong group of advisers.

Asked whether Trump shared his sharper perspective, Huntsman said, "The president will drive the discussion on malign activity and election meddling".

The ultimate goal of all the anti-NATO activities planned for the weekend is to emphasize that "NATO was never a peace-defending organization", he said, adding that the threat the bloc poses to global peace and security has only increased over time due to its rampant military build-up - first and foremost on Russia's doorstep.

The two ambassadors laid out a preliminary schedule for Trump's travels. For this gathering not only threatens to be one of the most unpredictable in the alliance's history, but also, most extraordinarily, the source of unpredictability is now Nato's fundamental pillar: the United States, whose leader appears to question the very objective of this military pact.

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