Trump Discusses NATO, Russian Sanctions with British PM Theresa May

By  | 

President Donald Trump met privately with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Friday, in his first meeting with a foreign leader since taking office. After the closed-door meeting, Trump and May held a joint press conference. During the 20-minute Q&A, Trump and May tackled a variety of topics that are in the interests of both countries, including defense alliances and Russian sanctions.

Trump began the conference by praising Britain for choosing to leave the European Union last summer. “I think Brexit is going to be a wonderful thing for your country,” Trump said. May congratulated her American counterpart for his “stunning election victory.” She also passed along an invitation from Queen Elizabeth II for Trump to visit the United Kingdom later this year for an official state visit. Trump accepted.

May quickly delved into more substantive issues. “On defense and security, we are united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense,” she said, referring to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the primary defensive mechanism against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.

In the weeks and months before taking office, Trump suggested that the U.S. rethink its membership in NATO, and said other members should pick up more of the tab. He has also said the alliance, which formed after World War II as a deterrent against Soviet aggression, is “obsolete.” But on Friday, May implied that during their private meeting, Trump said he was “100 percent” behind NATO.

Not everything went so smoothly though, as there were a few awkward exchanges:

Trump and May also addressed sanctions the U.S. has levied on Russian officials and companies, in response to Russia’s incursion in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014. President Obama also expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. in December in response to the CIA and FBI conclusion that the Kremlin interfered in the U.S. election. Trump said it is “too early” to lift the sanctions during the press conference. May also reiterated the importance of pressuring and containing Russia with sanctions.

In an interview on “Fox and Friends” on Friday, Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway suggested that lifting the sanctions is “under consideration.” The topic will likely be discussed when Trump speaks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Saturday. In a statement on Friday, Sen. John McCain, (R-AZ), an outspoken Putin detractor, warned Trump of the dangers in dealing with the Russian leader.

“He should remember that the man on the other end of the line is a murderer and a thug who seeks to undermine American national security interests at every turn,” McCain said. “For our commander in chief to think otherwise would be naïve and dangerous.”

Alec Siegel
Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. When he’s not working at Law Street he’s either cooking a mediocre tofu dish or enjoying a run in the woods. His passions include: gooey chocolate chips, black coffee, mountains, the Animal Kingdom in general, and John Lennon. Baklava is his achilles heel. Contact Alec at ASiegel@LawStreetMedia.com.



Send this to friend