Why all eyes are on Trump-Putin summit

Donald and Melania Trump

A senior European Union official lashed out on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) at President Donald Trump, lambasting the United States leader's constant criticism of European allies and urging him to remember who his friends are when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Mere moments before boarding Marine One en route to Brussels for the NATO Summit, US President Donald Trump made his feelings about the alliance clear - again.

"For the President to say the European Union was "set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank, ' or that 'NATO is as bad as NAFTA" is not only factually wrong, but proves to me that it's time to go", Melville said in response to comments made by Trump according to a report by Foreign Policy.

Donald Trump said the United Kingdom is in "turmoil" and his meeting with Vladimir Putin may be easier than his visit to see Theresa May. In March 2016 he said it was "obsolete and disproportionately too expensive" and on Monday, ahead of the summit, he suggested (on Twitter, of course), that "by some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of Nato" and on Tuesday raged: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS".

As he left the White House to head for Brussels, where he is due to arrive late on July 10, Trump was asked by a reporter whether Putin is "a friend or foe". "As far as I'm concerned, he's a competitor", Trump responded.

He adds: "I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing". "We pay far too much and they far too little", he said, before adding: "But we will work it out and all countries will be happy".

THIS SHOULD BE EASY: President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017.

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Trump set the stage for clashes at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit by writing to around a dozen allies to berate them for lagging on a 2014 pledge to try to spend two per cent of GDP on defence by 2024.

Ahead of the meeting, European Council President Donald Tusk took Trump to task for "criticising Europe nearly daily". "Not fair to the USA taxpayer", Trump tweeted earlier in the morning, calling the situation "Very Unfair!"

At the time, Trump ignored his national security advisers and congratulated Putin on what was widely believed to be a sham reelection victory.

"Wow!" And in multiple tweets, he reiterated a familiar theme, complaining that the U.S. is shouldering an unfair share of defense costs overseas: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS", he tweeted.

But it adds that they will also "submit credible national plans on its implementation" in language that will perhaps please the United States president.

Defense spending among the 29 nations belonging to the transatlantic military alliance increased to an estimated 2.42% of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 2.4% in 2016, the organization said earlier this year.

European Union leaders have been rattled by a recent encounter with Trump at the G7 summit in Canada, where the U.S. president belittled his democratic allies.

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