(Bloomberg) — The U.K. is hosting NATO leaders to mark the military alliance’s 70th anniversary. The timing is delicate as frictions abound among the allies. U.S. President Donald Trump and France’s Emmanuel Macron got into a tense exchange over Turkey’s role in NATO and its purchase of Russian missiles.
Tonight the NATO leaders attend a reception at Buckingham PalaceThe formal meeting is Wednesday in Watford, just outside LondonErdogan met today with the leaders of France, the U.K. and Germany
After meeting Erdogan, Macron says Turkey is “great country” (4:40 p.m.)
The French president told reporters in London that talks between Turkey, Germany and the U.K. covered issues ranging from Syria to Libya and that there was agreement to continue to cooperate on refugees. While the meeting was “very useful,” he said that “all the ambiguities” haven’t been lifted.
On the YPG, Macron stuck to his previous stance but softened his tone. He says disagreements over the status of the Kurdish militia have existed for a long time, and that he believes the political groups the coalition works with shouldn’t be labeled terrorist entities.
Dutch premier says Macron NATO analysis broadly right (3:17 p.m.)
The analysis Emmanuel Macron makes in that Economist interview is right on many points: Europe needs to do more, we have to look at the European-American relationship — that is crucial when it comes to Russia, China, space, new technologies, Prime Minister Mark Rutte says when asked about the French president’s ‘brain dead’ comments in an interview with Bloomberg Television.
“I wouldn’t agree with his final comments (about NATO being strategically brain dead)” but I don’t think that was the main point, the main point was to outline the issues that NATO is facing and to say we have to deal with them.
Separately, with regards to Russia, Rutte says there “should be pressure first, dialogue second” and commenting on Turkey buying the S-400 from Russia, he says it’s “not a wise decision.”
French leader says Turkey isn’t “compliant” (2:54 p.m.)
Turkey is threatening to block all declarations unless member states agree at the meeting to Ankara’s definition of a terrorist group, Macron says. Turkey wants the alliance to declare the Kurdish YPG militia a terrorist entity; France does not consider it one.
Macron asks how it’s possible for Turkey to be a NATO member and at the same time buy S-400 from Russia. Technically it is not possible, he says. “They decided not to be compliant with NATO.”
Macron tells Trump to get serious (2:45 p.m.)
Trump asks Macron if he wants to take some Islamic State fighters and Macron replies, “let’s get serious.” The French leader says that taking foreign fighters will be decided on a case by case basis and that the priority is to finish the war against Islamic State. The U.S. president then says: “this is why he is the greatest politician, because that was one of the best non-answers of all time.”
The discussion also highlighted differences over Turkey and Iran.
Macron says he stands by his criticism of NATO (2:40 p.m.)
“We don’t have the same definition of terrorism around the table,” Macron says. This is a strategic issue, he says. “I do believe we need strategy clarifications on who is enemy today and peace in Europe,” Macron says.
He refers specifically to Turkey, which is asking NATO to label the Kurdish YPG militia a terrorist organization. “They now are fighting against those who fight with us, who fought with us, shoulder-to-shoulder against ISIS, and sometimes they work with ISIS proxies. This is an issue, and this is a strategic issue. If we just have discussion about what we pay and we don’t have clearly discussions about such a situation, we are not serious,” Macron says.
Trump says disputes with Macron always work out (2:27 p.m.)
We’ll be talking about a lot of things, NATO and trade, Trump says. He adds that he and the French leader made “a lot of progress” during the first 25 minutes of speaking together and that he hopes to make more progress in next hour or so.
Trump says the U.S. and France have a “minor dispute” over trade, but he’s confident they can work it out. “We’ve done a lot of good things together as partners” and “it’s always worked out.”
Stoltenberg: Trump showing strong support for NATO (1 p.m.)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London that Trump has “conveyed a very strong support to NATO” and disputes Macron’s depiction of the military alliance as being in a permanent, vegetative state.
“I don’t agree with that way of characterizing NATO, especially because what we have seen over the last years is that NATO is actually doing more than it had done for decades,” he says. This includes “addressing new challenges like the rise of China, which was not on the NATO agenda before but which is on the NATO agenda now.”
Stoltenberg said the fact that the rise of China was on the agenda, a topic that wasn’t previously, points to the health of NATO.
Trump says Iranian crackdown “a terrible thing” (11:30 a.m.)
“Thousands of people are being killed that are protesting,” Trump says. When asked if there was anything he wanted to do about that, he replies: “Well, I’d rather not say right now. But it’s a terrible thing and I think the world has to be watching.”
Erdogan aide says NATO fails to grasp YPG threat (11:00 a.m.)
“Turkey is facing dire national security threats from terrorists in Syria,” says Gulnur Aybet who advises the Turkish president on foreign affairs.
The failure of NATO allies to understand “existential threats” posed by YPG militants will “undermine” the alliance, she says in London. “Turkey does not question NATO’s fundamentals,” Aybet adds. “It questions NATO’s understanding of threats to Turkey.”
On Turkey’s plans to fully deploy the Russian S-400 system next year, despite the threat of U.S. sanctions, Aybet says: “It’s a bilateral issue with the U.S. It’s not a NATO issue” and it’s a “requirement” for a Turkey but “not the end of the road.” Turkey is looking for options, including a domestically developed system.
U.K.’s Wallace plays down differences (10:30 a.m.)
U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace used a speech on the fringes of the NATO summit to urge the alliance to “stand together — no side deals, no separate voices.”
“Our comparative advantage over our competitors has always hinged on our togetherness, our unity,” Wallace told the NATO Engages conference in London. “While differences of opinion are normal in any democratic organization like ours, we ultimately succeed because each of us trust the other will have their back.”
Trump lashes out at France over taxes (10:00 a.m.)
“I don’t want France taxing American companies,” Trump says, just four hours before a scheduled meeting with Macron. If anyone is going to take advantage of American companies, it’s going to be us not France, he added.
A French official at Macron’s office says in reply: “We will not live comment everything that Trump says.” Minutes later, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in Paris says: “we are counting on European solidarity on this. The French tax is not discriminatory.”
The U.S. President’s comments in London are a second hit at his ally after Tuesday’s announcement the U.S. could hit about $2.4 billion of French products with tariffs over a dispute concerning how large tech companies aretaxed. France imposes since this year a digital services tax — a levy that hits the revenues of large American tech companies including Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.
Trump says he’s become ‘a bigger fan of NATO’ (10:02 a.m.)
“I’ve become a bigger fan of NATO” because they have been so “flexible.”
Trump’s says U.S. has good relations with Turkey (9:50 a.m.)
“I like Turkey” and get along with Erdogan, Trump said. “He is a good NATO member, or will be.”
He added that Turkey was very helpful during the operation by U.S. forces in northern Syria that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi last month. He could not “have been nicer and more supportive.’
Trump says he could work with Corbyn (9:53 a.m.)
The U.S. president responded to a question about whether he could work with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn were he to be elected prime minister by saying he could work with anybody.
Trump takes a jab at Macron’s brain-dead comment (9:40 a.m.)
The U.S. president also responded to Macron’s recent comments raising concerns about the NATO alliance being “brain dead,” calling the remarks “very disrespectful.”
“NATO serves a great purpose,” the president said, adding that Macron’s remarks were a “very nasty statement essentially to 28 countries.”
The praise for the seven-decade old defense alliance was a notable break for Trump, who at recent meetings of the organization has threatened to pull out of the treaty over frustration that other countries weren’t spending enough on defense. But Trump struck a more positive tone on Tuesday, saying he was encouraged that other members of the alliance had boosted their security funding by $130 billion during his presidency.
Trump says EU must shape up or things will get very tough (9:35 a.m.)
Trump then took aim at the European Union and returned to a frequent complaint: that Germany and others are not paying putting enough money into the pot. He criticized Germany’s spending levels – around 1.2 percent of GDP – were unfairly below agreed-upon targets.
“It’s not right to be taken advantage of on NATO,” Trump says. “I love Germany. I love this country. But I am representing the U.S. They may not like me because I am representing the U.S. strong.”
He adds: “EU has to shape up or else things will get very tough.”
Trump will see Johnson, declines to comment on election (9:29 a.m.)
There was a lot of speculation on whether Trump would see Johnson one-to-one. In his first bilateral in London, the U.S. president said he would meet with the U.K. leader without giving any more details on when and how. He also steered clear of weighing in on the U.K. election on Dec. 12: “I dont’ want to complicate it.” Trump is a divisive figure among the U.K. electorate. Every time he’s visited he’s been met with protests. Therefore, his opinion on a preferred outcome come have an effect on voters.
Trump insisted that he will “stay out of the election” and repeated that he liked Johnson and thinks he will do a good job.
Erdogan opposes NATO steps unless YPG group called terrorist (9:10 a.m.)
“If our friends in NATO do not accept those terrorists that we are fighting as terrorists, then sorry, but we will oppose any step that is to be taken,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday before setting off for the summit.
Ankara has been holding up an alliance plan to defend Baltic states against Russian aggression as it demands NATO recognize the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist organization. Turkey views it as a menace to its territorial integrity and in October launched a operation against them across the border in Syria that’s been widely deplored within the alliance.
Raab says Trump-Johnson meeting plans ‘fluid’ (8:30 a.m.)
Touring TV studios to talk up the NATO celebrations, U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been repeatedly asked if Trump will meet with Johnson on the sidelines of the summit. Raab says the decision is “fluid.”
The ruling Conservatives are seeking to distance themselves from the U.S. President, who’s unpopular in the U.K., fearing Trump could damage Johnson’s electoral chances if the pair are photographed looking too close.
The Tories Secretly Fear Trump Could Wreck Johnson’s Election
Trump May Meet Again With Erdogan Despite Backlash Risk at Home
Trump Turns Against Macron and His ‘Very Nasty’ Attack on NATO
Trump’s Deference to Erdogan Adds to NATO’s Vexation Over Turkey
It’s No Longer Just Donald Trump Questioning What NATO Does
Erdogan Opposes NATO Steps Unless Kurdish Group Called Terrorist
–With assistance from Onur Ant.
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