Senate takes swipe at Trump with pro-NATO vote

Flake's advice to Trump on Putin meeting

German Prime Minister Merkel hit back immediately, not only denying Trump's contention but suggesting that his comfortable upbringing in the USA gave him no standing to spout off on the world stage about Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions. "Those of the leaders that have negotiated with Putin or have experience with him are going to have a hard sell to make about why our defense spending commitments in Europe are important and why the United States should continue to have troops in Poland on a rotational basis, for example".

At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the United States on trade and needed to immediately up spending.

He told reporters in Washington before leaving that "Frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us" and then later tweeted from Air Force One that he may demand reimbursements from the European member nations.

Trump has linked defense and trade throughout his presidency, using national security powers to impose tariffs against close allies like Canada and trade deficits as an argument for cutting USA defense aid to Europe.

And even though Trump downplayed his upcoming meeting, he compared it to his recent meeting with the leader of North Korea: "I think meeting with people is great".

Speaking to reporters after Trump's remarks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel shot back that she would not be lectured about Russian control of Germany, having grown up in the Soviet-dominated East Germany.

Before he left Andrews Air Force Base, President Trump reiterated his demand for the USA to pay less and other members of the Western military alliance to pay more, and he linked the issue to the EU's trade surplus with the US. USA officials said the two sides this time would be discussing Russian election meddling, Russia's incursions in the Ukraine and involvement in Syria.

"I do think Russian Federation is trying to flip Turkey; they're trying to flip many of our allies", Hutchison said.

"They will spend more", he later predicted.

More news: Trump still pondering Supreme Court pick as big reveal nears

That being said, it's still really significant when the president of the United States says things that make the leader of Russian Federation happy. Two percent represents the amount each country aims to spend on its own defense, not some kind of direct payment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the U.S.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to increase military spending, accusing Europe of freeloading off the US and even raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence as required if they were ever attacked.

Of the divisions and tensions likely to be in attendance at the Brussels meeting, he conceded that "there are disagreements and different views, and I expect actually also honest and frank discussions during the summit".

However, Trump doesn't seem to think so.

"It's also because of your leadership, because your clear message", Stoltenberg responded. "And I have Putin".

Trump predicted as he departed Washington that the "easiest" leg of the journey would be the sit-down with Putin - a comment that did little to reassure allies fretting over his potential embrace of a Russian leader they regard as troublesome. "I get along with her very well".

He leaves Brussels for two days in London Thursday, followed by a weekend in Scotland and his summit with Putin in Helsinki next Monday.

Back in the U.S., Democratic congressional leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump's "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany", as "an embarrassment".

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