Meeting Putin will be easier than talking to May – Donald Trump
The Prime Minister said she was looking forward to welcoming the US president to the UK later this week.
Theresa May has insisted that she is “looking forward” to her meeting with Donald Trump, despite the US president suggesting he will find it easier to talk with Vladimir Putin than her.
Speaking as he set off on a European trip taking in a Nato summit and his face-to-face talks with Mr Putin as well as his first visit to the UK as president, Mr Trump suggested that Britain was in “turmoil”.
The US president said he got along with Mrs May “very well”. But he also said he might make time during his UK visit to speak with his friend Boris Johnson, who has just rocked her Government by resigning as foreign secretary.
It was “up to the people” whether or not they want Mrs May to stay as Prime Minister, he said.
Mr Trump and his wife Melania ignored questions from reporters after they landed in Brussels to be greeted by the US ambassador to the EU, Gordon Sondland.
The president was wearing the same dark suit as earlier, while the first lady had put on a long trenchcoat and black heels.
Mrs May insisted that she was expecting to talk “positively” with Mr Trump about issues ranging from security to trade.
She said that Britain was “looking not just to the United States but to other parts of the world” to sign free trade agreements during the 21-month transition period following Brexit in March 2019.
Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting - NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Answering questions from reporters on the lawn of the White House as he prepared to board the Marine One presidential helicopter, Mr Trump said that the UK “certainly has a lot of things going on”.
“It’s going to be an interesting time in the UK and an interesting time at Nato,” he said. “We will work it out and all countries will be happy.
“So I have Nato, I have the UK – which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of all.”
Asked whether Mrs May should be replaced as Prime Minister, the US president replied: “Well that’s up to the people. I get along with her very well, I have a very good relationship. That’s certainly up to the people, not up to me.”
Mr Trump said he had not spoken with Mrs May, adding: “Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me, very supportive. Maybe I’ll speak to him when I get over there.
“I like Boris Johnson, I’ve always liked him.”
The Prime Minister was asked about Mr Trump’s comments at a press conference with German chancellor Angela Merkel at a Western Balkans summit hosted by the UK in London.
Mrs May said: “I’m looking forward to seeing President Trump not only at the Nato summit coming up in the next couple of days but also obviously when he comes to the United Kingdom at the end of the week.
“There’s much for us to discuss. As you know, the special relationship we have to the United States is our longest and deepest defence and security relationship, so we will be talking about those issues but also talking about trade issues.
“There are particular issues between the EU and the United States because of the trade tariff issue at the moment, when he imposed those tariffs on steel and aluminium and the EU responded.
Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
“We will be talking positively about how we can continue to work together in our special relationship for the good of people living in the UK and the United States and, actually, for the wider good.
“That is what our relationship has helped to underpin – the security of Europe and more widely.”
Mr Trump repeated his demands for the EU to lower barriers to US imports and for America’s Nato allies to pay more towards their own defence.
“We do have a lot of allies, but we can’t be taken advantage of,” he said. “We are being taken advantage of by the EU.
“We lost 151 billion (US) dollars last year on trade and on top of that, we spend at least 70% to Nato and frankly it helps them a lot more than it helps us.
“So we will see what happens, we have a long, beautiful week.”