khaleejtimes - 7/12/2018 3:08:51 PM - GMT (+4 )
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday a meeting with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week may be the easiest on his Europe trip, saying Moscow was a competitor and not an enemy.
Asked if Putin presented a threat, Trump said, "I don't want him to be and that is why we have NATO," following a summit of the military alliance in Brussels.
"He is a competitor," Trump told reporters. "Is he my enemy? He is not my enemy ... Hopefully someday maybe he will be a friend. I just don't know him very well."
Trump said he would raise issues of arms control, extending new start treaty, and Russia violations of INF treaty in Putin talks.
"We go into that meeting not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria. We will be talking about meddling ... We will be talking about Ukraine."
Trump says US commitment to NATO remains strong
US President Donald Trump says the US commitment to NATO "remains very strong" despite reports that he threated to pull out in a dispute over defense spending.
Trump says at a news conference Thursday in Brussels that he told "people" that he would be "very unhappy" if they didn't increase their commitments.
Trump says the US has been paying "probably 90 percent of the costs of NATO."
Trump adds that he was "extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment."
NATO had no immediate comment.
Trump once declared NATO "obsolete." He says Thursday: "I believe in NATO."
Trump made no threat to quit NATO: Lithuania leader
US President Donald Trump did not threaten to quit NATO during a summit on Thursday, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters after the meeting in Brussels.
Asked whether anything Trump said might have been interpreted as a warning that the United States could withhold defence capabilities from allies in Europe, she said: "I would not interpret it that way."
Grybauskaite, whose Baltic nation is among those on NATO's front line with an increasingly assertive Russia, said Trump insisted that allies do more to quickly raise defence spending.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald ; @macdonaldrtr Editing by Robin Pomeroy)