German, NATO officials wary of Trump-Putin summit

German, NATO officials wary of Trump-Putin summit - media

The US president has previously described North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as obsolete and complained about other countries' contributions to the alliance. NATO's stated goal is 2 percent. Still, Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a weekly podcast on Saturday, said Germany would increase defense spending in its 2019 budget, suggesting Trump's jawboning is paying off.

"Many of us are concerned, I certainly am, about the President's ongoing rhetoric that really demeans or ridicules our allies and praises our adversaries", Flake said. "And you need to make sure that we're willing, on our side, to hold Russian Federation responsible for the many activities that they are responsible for, whether that is election meddling; malign activities throughout Europe, including the Balkans, U.K. and Brexit, France, and Italy, just to mention a few; and to hold them responsible for" the destabilizing use of social media.

After 18 months of Donald Trump's "America First" presidency, European leaders meeting with him next week fear the United States may change its traditional course and begin to bring American troops home from the continent.

Trump has shown little regard for America's traditional bonds with the Old World, publicly upbraiding world leaders at NATO's new headquarters a year ago for not spending enough on defense and delivering searing indictments of Western trading partners last month at an global summit in Canada.

"It can not be ruled out", Ischinger told the German newspaper Die Welt in an interview published on Saturday.

Christian Lindner, head of the pro-business Free Democrats, told Deutschlandfunk in an interview that he did not trust Trump, and his actions on trade and in the security arena were not in the United States' long term interest.

"He is too volatile.Within 24 hours, Mr. Trump can change his position by 180 degrees", said Lindner, although he warned against growing anti-American sentiments in Germany given that the United States was and would remain Germany's closest ally.

Despite Trump's criticism, Ischinger said the transatlantic alliance is in its best shape in years, given rising military spending and efforts to shore up defenses in the Baltic states and Poland after Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Experts fear the trip could produce a repeat of the dynamics from Trump's last trip overseas, when he admonished Group of Seven allied nations at a summit in Canada before heading to Singapore, where he showered praise on one of America's longest-standing adversaries, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

"Kim has only made promises thus far. Only Trump has billed the summit as such as a success", said Beyer, a member of Merkel's Christian Democrats.

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