President Trump is now in Belgium for “tough talks” with heads of EU institutions and NATO military alliance in a country he once called a “hell hole” because of its lax immigration policy on Muslims and terrorism problem.
Brussels is the fourth leg of a 5-stop, nine day first foreign trip for President Trump since assuming office. He brings with him a strong message of unity and fighting terror. Trump is expected to reaffirm a decades old American policy in addition to bilateral talks and will meet with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.
In the last 24-hours Trump has been in Israel before flying to Rome where he had a brief private meeting with the Pope. He then flew to Brussels where he will be for 36 hours before leaving for Sicily to attend a G7 Summit.
After landing in Brussels the President and the First Lady met with the Belgian Royals, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde at the same time when hundreds of protestors demonstrated in the city centre against his presence.
Trump is expected to have private lunch with new French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron before meeting with EU chiefs who have not hidden their disdain for his Presidency. President Trump is a strong proponent of a pro-America first agenda that is contrary to the fossilized EU bureaucrats’ agenda of a single rule globalist agenda.
He has in the past been outspoken about the failures of EU while being supportive of Brexit. Trump has also called out NATO member states reneging on the agreed upon 2% of national GDP on military spending to meet their obligation, something EU bureaucrats did not appreciate.
Secretary Tillerson told reporters the only thing President Trump wants is to “persuade NATO members to step up and fully meet their obligations
“I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them and say… ‘We are doing a lot. The American people are doing a lot for your security, for joint security. You need to make sure you’re doing your share for your own security as well.”
“That’s going to be the core of his message to NATO.”
The NATO alliance is expected to agree to a U.S. plan to be more involved in the fight against radical Islam with members agreeing to a US-led coalition request against ISIS requested and to by the President.
NATO Secretary General Jans Stoltenberg, said the coalition “will decide to expand our support to the coalition with more AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] flight time, more information sharing and air-to-air refueling.
“This will send a strong political message of NATO’s commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our coordination within the coalition but it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations.”
Donald Trump’s timetable in Brussels has been hailed by foreign policy hawks as a minor diplomatic masterpiece of its kind, maximizing as it does the number of meetings and minimizing the amount of public speaking and press scrutiny which will follow them.
In the morning, he will meet leaders of the EU, among them European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who once complained that two years would be wasted educating the new president about a world he does not know.
In the afternoon, President Trump will be at the headquarters of NATO – an organisation he once described as “obsolete” and whose European members he has also criticized for not spending enough on their own defense.
It won’t be difficult, though, to construct an agenda for those meetings which focuses on very broad areas of agreement – like the importance of the fight against terrorism – and if the day proceeds without diplomatic incident, Europe’s leaders will at least be able to reflect on face-to-face meetings with the world’s most talked about political personality.
Earlier on Wednesday, President Trump said he was “more determined than ever” to pursue peace in the world after meeting Pope Francis at the Vatican.
The two men had in the past clashed on issues such as migration, climate change and building a wall along the Mexico-US border.
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