Stung By Trump At G-7, Allies Look For Better Outcome At NATO Summit President Trump is heading to Brussels for a NATO summit this week. The alliance wants to present a united front, but Trump has complained that other members are not spending enough on defense.
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Stung By Trump At G-7, Allies Look For Better Outcome At NATO Summit

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Stung By Trump At G-7, Allies Look For Better Outcome At NATO Summit

Stung By Trump At G-7, Allies Look For Better Outcome At NATO Summit

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

President Trump is on his way to Brussels this morning for a summit with NATO allies. He has a message for them, which he explained at a recent campaign rally in Montana.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I'll see NATO, and I'm going to tell NATO, you've got to start paying your bills; the United States is not going to take care of everything.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: Soon after the NATO summit, President Trump will meet face-to-face with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. NPR's Ayesha Rascoe reports on why U.S. allies are nervous that Trump's approach to both summits may give them a bad case of deja vu.

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: The United States' partners in NATO do not want a repeat of the G-7 meeting in Canada last month. That's where President Trump refused to sign an agreement with the group because he was upset with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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TRUMP: He had a news conference that he had because he assumed I was in an airplane and I wasn't watching. He learned that's going to cost a lot of money for the people of Canada.

RASCOE: After lashing out at Trudeau and other U.S. allies over trade, Trump held a historic meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Those talks ended with Trump lavishing praise on Kim.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What did you learn about him, sir?

TRUMP: I learned he's a very talented man.

RASCOE: U.S. allies worry a rift at the NATO summit could be followed by a positive meeting between Trump and the Russian president. That could be damaging after what happened at the G-7.

KATHLEEN HICKS: I think the stakes are much higher.

RASCOE: Kathleen Hicks worked on a study about funding NATO for the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

HICKS: That's almost one strike versus two strikes. I think having two strikes inside the transatlantic relationship would be very, very devastating.

RASCOE: Hicks says if Trump's talks with Putin look friendlier than his talks with NATO, that's a problem. NATO needs to appear united if they want to deter bad actors - bad actors like Russia. Unity will be tough at the summit. That's because Trump has been publicly bashing NATO members over their defense spending. At his recent rally in Montana, Trump said he confronted Germany's leader, Angela Merkel.

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TRUMP: And I said, you know, Angela, I can't guarantee it, but we're protecting you, and it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you.

RASCOE: NATO countries set a goal of putting 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward defense spending, but only a handful have met that goal. Germany is not one of them. Ted Bromund of The Heritage Foundation says this is not the first U.S. administration to complain about Europe not contributing enough, but...

TED BROMUND: What's new is that this time, it's the president saying it and saying it very bluntly. And in diplomacy, that does end up changing the message. It makes it sound much more serious and much more pressing.

RASCOE: While Bromund feels the NATO meeting is worthwhile, he has concerns about Trump's meeting with Putin. U.S. presidents have been trying and failing for years to forge a better relationship with Russia, and Bromund believes Trump will fail, too. But Trump says the U.S. would benefit from being on better terms with the Russian leader. He even floated the idea that Russia could rejoin the G-7. Here he is on Fox News explaining why would it help to have Putin at the table.

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TRUMP: I could say, would you do me a favor? Would you get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor? Would you get out of the Ukraine - get out of Ukraine? You shouldn't be there. Just come on.

RASCOE: One big concern for NATO allies is that Trump could reach a deal with Putin without consulting them, just as Trump did with Kim Jong Un, making concessions without telling South Korea ahead of time. For its part, the White House is trying to tamp down expectations about the Trump-Putin summit next week. Here's National Security Adviser John Bolton.

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JOHN BOLTON: I don't think we expect necessarily specific outcomes or decisions.

RASCOE: Even without a deal, the meeting could play into Putin's agenda, so says Evelyn Farkas of the Atlantic Council.

EVELYN FARKAS: Everything the president says is positive about Russia and Putin and negative about the European alliances. Putin will play that over and over again on his domestic TV audience to show how he's made Russia so great.

RASCOE: And what is great for Russia may not be so great for NATO. Ayesha Rascoe, NPR News.

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