German, NATO officials wary of Trump-Putin summit

Elias Hubbard
July 9, 2018

"I've heard nothing on that score".

In this photo made available by the German Federal Government, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, speaks with U.S. President Donald Trump, seated at right, during the G7 Leaders Summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada, on Saturday, June 9, 2018. Jeff Flake, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, said he is concerned about what Trump might promise Russian President Vladimir Putin when the two meet this month.

Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned in a recent speech that "old pillars of reliability are crumbling", in a veiled reference to the US withdrawal from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to tariffs on European Union metals exports and the threat of more to come on cars.

On other occasions, the two men discussed Syria, where Putin offered to help Trump achieve his agenda of pulling the U.S. out of the region, before advisers urged the President not to accept such an offer. "I welcome the fact that Germany is significantly increasing its defence spending". "I'm glad that the President is talking to Vladimir Putin".

While Trump has claimed "nobody is tougher on Russia" than he is, he has drawn frequent bipartisan criticism over his refusal to condemn Putin and Russian Federation for the intelligence community's conclusion that Russian Federation meddled in the 2016 US election.

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

According to Pew Research Data, more than 60,000 USA troops are now stationed in Europe, including 35,000 in Germany, 12,000 in Italy, 8,500 in Britain, and 3,300 in Spain, with thousands more rotating into other European countries as needed.

"I think he's comfortable with the team he's put around himself for the first time in his presidency, and hopefully, that will show up in these talks", he concluded.

Given the president's reported desire to explore pulling USA troops from Germany, one administration official said "there is nothing being said at all about the troop alignment in Germany or anything that would change the 32,00 troop force we have in Germany".

Huntsman's description of Russia's "malign" activities was far sharper than those expressed by Trump, who has indicated his admiration for Putin and said that he takes Putin at his word in denying election meddling. "But we all need to take a bit of a breath here ... and hope the president is in a good mood when he goes to Brussels".

Trump has already met with Putin twice as president, including a meeting on the sidelines of a summit in Germany that stretched for more than two hours.

- CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 8, 2018Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin on July 16 in Helsinki, Finland, to cap off a week-long trip to Europe.

With an important meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders just days away, the 69-year-old alliance is fraying at the edges. The activists, representing an array of organizations that united under the motto 'Make peace great again, ' chanted and carried banners reading "Stop NATO - stop war", "Trump not welcome" and "NATO GAME OVER" as they peacefully paraded in the streets. He is due to arrive in Helsinki the evening of July 15 for meetings the next morning with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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