President Trump will arrive in Brussels on Tuesday night with an eye toward pushing allied members of NATO to boost their defense budgets.
Despite Trump’s push, the heads-of-state gathering risks being overshadowed by growing tensions between the U.S. president and European allies, Trump’s policies outside of NATO and his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is scheduled to take place days later.
U.S. ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters last week that the theme of this year’s summit will be “strength and unity.” And while NATO’s secretary-general noted that the alliance has survived past disputes, he has acknowledged growing divisions among allies.
On the heels of a tense summit for the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialized nations last month, NATO watchers are hoping leaders put on a happy face in Brussels and get through the meeting without any major incidents.
Here are five things to watch at this week’s summit:
Allies largely played nice with Trump in the early days of his presidency, hoping to charm him into changing his position on issues such as the Paris climate agreement, tariffs and the Iran nuclear deal.
But Trump defied those efforts and has openly criticized other world leaders, leading to various disputes with the heads of global powers that have long relied on the U.S.
The G-7 appeared to mark a turning point, with Angela Merkel’s office releasing a photo of the German chancellor staring down a cross-armed Trump. And for days after the summit, as Trump prepared for his historic meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, the president feuded with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
After Trudeau said Canada would retaliate against Trump’s “kind of insulting” tariffs, Trump called Trudeau “very dishonest and weak” in a tweet and said that the United States would not be signing the G-7’s joint communique because of “Justin’s false statements.”