Trump meets EU chiefs in Brussels

US President Donald Trump and top EU officials didn't see eye to eye on climate, trade or Russia, European Council President Donald Tusk said after a meeting with Trump on Thursday. At those stops, they agreed with Trump's call to concentrate on counterterrorism and economic growth, with no discussion, at least in public, about human and civil rights concerns that had dogged U.S.

"I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them", Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters travelling with Trump.

A senior United Kingdom government official said: "The prime minister raised the issue of the intelligence leaks with the president while they were waiting for the family photo to be taken".

Based on a statement from the White House, European leaders had expected that Trump would commit to the core mission of the alliance established in 1949 that bonds the United States and Europe based on the core principle, known as Article 5, that an attack on one member state is as an attack on all.

U.S. President Donald Trump capped his first official visit to Brussels with a commanding - and meandering - speech at NATO's new headquarters, in which he berated allies for not spending enough on defense, insisted that even NATO's goal of increasing annual military expenditures to 2 percent of GDP was insufficient, and provocatively declared that some allies "owed" arrears for years of lagging contributions. Only five members now meet the target: Britain, Estonia, debt-laden Greece, Poland and the United States, which spends more on defense than all the other allies combined. He called on Arab and Muslim leaders to step up in the fight against terrorism during an address in Saudi Arabia, and he called on Israelis and Palestinians to get back to the negotiating table during remarks Tuesday in Jerusalem. He called it a "strong political message", as well as a practical one.

However, Stoltenberg stressed the plan did not provide for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation taking on a combat role in the fight against IS and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. 'We are doing a lot. The US now funds around three-quarters of the alliance's operations.

In a brief midday news conference, Stoltenberg said the alliance has already "turned a corner" on spending and that budgets have increased for the last two years.

Canada's deeply entrenched role in the fight against global extremism is more focused these days on intelligence-gathering - and sharing - than on putting more boots on the ground in the Middle East, Justin Trudeau suggested Thursday. "And I am not 100 percent sure that we can say today - we means Mr. President and myself - that we have a common position, common opinions about Russian Federation", said Tusk, who said unity needed to be found around values like freedom and human rights and dignity. "The greatest task today is the consolidation of the whole free world around those values, not just interests".

Trump's packed schedule in a city he once called a "hellhole" took him from one meeting to another with partners and allies who wondered which president would show up: the disciplined script-bound leader who has made mostly conventional public remarks during his worldwide trip, or the one who has kept them in the crosshairs.

Trump told Reuters in February the European Union was "wonderful".

Trump faced protests on his arrival in Brussels, but he is getting a red-carpet welcome from Western allies eager to persuade him that his earlier criticisms of them were misplaced. Barack Obama made a case for American involvement internationally, saying "we can't isolate ourselves, we can't hide behind a wall" in the hours before Merkel was set to meet Trump in Brussels.

  • Leroy Wright