Trump lectures Europe

 

Donald Trump has spoken strongly about NATO in Brussels, and has also vowed to stop embarrassing US intelligence leaks.

Guardian: Trump rebukes Nato leaders for not paying defence bills

Trump has taken the unprecedented step of lecturing world leaders on their chronic failure to pay for their own defence as they gathered in front of him for the unveiling of memorials to Nato’s role in keeping the peace around the world.

The US president broke with diplomatic norms to use his speech at a Natomeeting in Brussels to directly castigate 23 of the 28 members for failing to spend enough on defence, leaving the “taxpayers of the United States” to pick up the tab.

As tributes to Nato’s collective action – made from fragments of the Berlin Wall and the twin towers – were unveiled, Trump mentioned the article 5 commitment of member states to act as one when attacked. However, he largely focused on letting the leaders, and Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, know of his determination to make them pay.

“I have been very very direct with secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying Nato members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations.

“But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defence.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years. And not paying in those past years.”

Ironically:

Trump, who said the attack in Manchester illustrated the need for greater cooperation on fighting terrorism, also appeared to demand that states who had so far failed to reach the 2% of GDP funding threshold, make additional reparations in the coming years.

Greater cooperation may mean stopping the US leaks of intelligence.

Fox News: Trump chastises NATO, vows to crackdown on leaks

With long-standing European alliances facing new strain, President Donald Trump chastised NATO member nations for not paying their fair share to protect the long-standing pact and declined to explicitly endorse its mutual defense agreement.

That unprecedented one-two punch from a president in his first major speech in Europe further rattled a continent anxious about Trump’s commitment to their bonds and reeling from another deadly terror attack.

Trump issued his sharp rebuke from Brussels, a city he called a “hellhole” in 2016, where he was addressing leaders at both the European Union and NATO, a pair of alliances whose necessity he has questioned.

Trump returned to his longstanding call for member nations to pay their fair share, lecturing leaders like German chancellor Angela Merkel and new French President Emmanuel Macron about contributing more as they stood listening in awkward silence.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” Trumps said in brief remarks. “If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism.”

On terrorism and intelligence:

The aftermath of that attack in Manchester, England, has produced further tension, as a British official said that police have decided not to share further information on the investigation due to leaks blamed on U.S. officials. Trump, who said there is “no relationship we cherish more” than the one with the United Kingdom, declared the leaks “deeply troubling” and said he was asking the Justice Department to lead an investigation into the matter.

“These leaks have been going on for a long time and my administration will get to the bottom of this,” Trump said in a written statement. “The leaks of sensitive information pose a grave threat to our national security.”

Trump and his White House have long complained about “leakers” they think are trying to undermine his presidency.

Theresa May:

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she plans to discuss the leaks with her American counterpart at the NATO gathering to “make clear to President Trump that intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

British officials are particularly angry that photos detailing evidence about the bomb used in the Manchester attack were published in The New York Times, although it’s not clear that the paper obtained the photos from U.S. officials.

Emmanuel Macro:

Macron pushed Trump on a sweeping climate agreement and even engaged in an apparent handshake stand-off.

But:

Trump also had lunch with Macron, who has been critical of the Republican president. As the press watched, the two men exchanged a very firm handshake during their meeting, both men gripping tight, their faces showing the strain.

English on the job

Bill English has emerged from the holiday period via  Media Statement (that isn’t obvious on his Parliamentary web page nor the National Party website).

He will be hitting 2017 with a significant international trip, a big outing for him early in his tenure as Prime Minister.


PM to travel to Brussels, London and Berlin

Prime Minister Bill English will travel to Brussels, London and Berlin next week to meet with leaders to discuss issues including trade and security.

“This is an opportunity to exchange views on a range of issues facing Europe and the world, and to reaffirm that New Zealand remains a committed friend and partner,” Mr English says.

“The focus of my trip will be to advance New Zealand business and trade opportunities in the region, including starting the negotiations on an FTA with the European Union this year.”

In Brussels, Mr English will meet with the three Presidents of the EU – European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President Martin Schulz. He will also meet with Belgium’s Prime Minister Charles Michel.

In London, Mr English will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Mayor Sadiq Khan.

“I will be interested to hear Prime Minister May’s views on Brexit and will take the opportunity to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment to working towards a high quality trade deal when the UK is in a position to negotiate.”

In Berlin, Mr English will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble.

Mr English will also meet with a range of other government, business and academic leaders to hear their views on the political, economic and security situation in the region and about opportunities for New Zealand there.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Trade Minister Todd McClay in Brussels and Foreign Minister Murray McCully in London and Berlin.

Dr Mary English will also travel with the Prime Minister.

Mr English will leave New Zealand on 9 January and return on 18 January.

– Scoop

Bombs in Brussels

A reminder of the continual threat of terrorism in Europe with three reported bomb blasts in Brussels, with a current reported death toll of 34, and many more serious injuries.

There were two blasts at Zaventem Airport in Brussels, and one train was bombed at Malbeek Metro Station.

Around 35 killed in Brussels attacks claimed by IS

A series of explosions claimed by the Islamic State group ripped through Brussels airport and a metro train Tuesday, killing around 35 people in the latest attacks to bring bloody carnage to the heart of Europe.

Two huge blasts, at least one of which prosecutors said was likely caused by a suicide bomber, rocked the check-in hall at Zaventem Airport, strewing the scene with blood and mangled bodies and sending hundreds of terrified travellers fleeing in terror.

More than 200 people were wounded in Tuesday’s bloodshed, which came just four days after the dramatic arrest in Brussels of Salah Abdeslam — the prime suspect in the Paris attacks — after four months on the run.

An online news agency affiliated with IS said the group was behind the attacks.

“Islamic State fighters carried out a series of bombings with explosive belts and devices on Tuesday, targeting an airport and a central metro station in the centre of the Belgian capital Brussels, a country participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State,” the Aamaq news agency said.

I don’t think ISIS involvement has been confirmed yet.

Belgium had a close association with terror attacks in France last year.

This will raise the fear levels again. With travellers being targeted it will have an impact on tourism as well as on Belgium itself.