President Donald Trump refuted European Council President Donald Tusk’s Tuesday slam about the number of America’s allies as Trump took off for this week’s NATO summit.
Trump stopped to talk with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before taking off in Marine One. Reporters asked Trump to respond to Tusk’s comments early Tuesday as he signed a joint EU-NATO declaration, “Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don’t have all that many.”
“Well, we do have a lot of allies,” President Trump told the reporters, “but we cannot be taken advantage of.”
Trump said the European Union is taking advantage of the United States: “We lost $151 billion last year on trade.” Trump has cited this figure many times in just the past few days.
“And on top of that, we spend at least 70 percent for NATO,” Trump added. “And, frankly, it helps them a lot more than it helps us.”
Trump then offered a forward-looking take as he prepared to take off for this week’s NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, “So we’ll see what happens. We have a long, beautiful week.”
Tusk also encouraged European countries to increase NATO spending, according to CNBC. He signed the joint declaration with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Tusk’s message for Trump was “It is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem.”
President Trump has a packed schedule of meetings over essentially two days at the NATO summit. From there he will continue on to London for meetings in the United Kingdom. He is scheduled to hold a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters ahead of the NATO summit that the “major overall themes of this summit [are] going to be NATO’s strength and unity.” Trump has repeatedly called on NATO members to increase their spending to the previously agreed upon two percent.