Trump kicks off NATO trip by praising Putin, attacking May


By Philip Rucker, Michael Birnbaum and William Booth | Washington Post

BRUSSELS – President Donald Trump signaled he was ready for a transatlantic brawl Tuesday as he embarked on a consequential week of international diplomacy, taking aim at vulnerable British Prime Minister Theresa May and suggesting that meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be easier than talking with Western allies at the NATO summit here.

Leaders converged on Brussels fearful of what the combative U.S. president might say or do to rupture the liberal world order, with some European diplomats privately predicting calamity.

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As he departed Washington on Tuesday, Trump stoked the deep divisions in May’s government to undermine the leader of America’s closest historic ally on the eve of the NATO meeting. Asked if May should remain in power, Trump said, “That’s up to the people,” while also complimenting her top rival, Boris Johnson.

Some of Europe’s counters to Trump, including May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, arrive with heavy domestic political baggage of their own, making them vulnerable in negotiations with Trump as they seek to protect the Western alliance from his impulses on defense spending and trade.

Trump has long prized his instincts for taking advantage of an adversary’s weaknesses, and referred to the “turmoil” confronting May at home in remarks to reporters.

The prime minister faces a rebellion from advocates of a hard break from the European Union, who say she has been waffling, and is in danger of losing control. Johnson, a potential successor to May, resigned Monday as foreign secretary and reportedly savaged her Brexit plan as “a big turd.”

Trump praised him in personal terms: “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He’s been …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Business

      

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