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Live Briefing: Live Updates: Trump Is in Brussels, and Disagreement on Russia Emerges

NATO leaders are holding their breath: Will Mr. Trump endorse Article 5?

If there is any real drama over Mr. Trump’s visit, it concerns whether he will go off script on the question of Article 5 of the Atlantic alliance’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on any member is an attack on all. He is expected to explicitly endorse the principle in a speech when he unveils a Sept. 11 memorial — a piece of twisted metal from the World Trade Center — outside NATO’s new building.

(Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will do the same with a chunk of the Berlin Wall, which came down in 1989, to symbolize how the alliance kept the peace during the Cold War. Before her planned meeting with Mr. Trump, Ms. Merkel met with former President Barack Obama in Berlin.)

While Mr. Trump appears to have decided that the alliance isn’t really obsolete, as he once said, he has never publicly committed to Article 5. He is expected to finally do so on Thursday, White House officials said, because the only time NATO has invoked Article 5 was to defend the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks.

NATO officials will not breathe easy until Mr. Trump actually utters the words. Of course, the leaders would also like him to say something critical about Russia and its annexation of Crimea, but Mr. Trump has been pretty quiet on that topic, too.

What he has been vocal about is pressing NATO allies to pay what he considers their fair share of the alliance’s running costs. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, traveling with Mr. Trump to Brussels, said the president would have blunt words for the leaders of other NATO members on that issue.

—Steven Erlanger

In the meeting with Mr. Trump, Russia was a sticking point, Mr. Tusk says.

When Mr. Tusk emerged from the meeting with Mr. Trump and Mr. Juncker, there were clear signs that they had differences of opinion over Russia.

“Some issues remained open, like climate and trade,” Mr. Tusk said shortly after the meeting at European Union headquarters here. “And I am not 100 percent sure that we can say today — ‘we’ means Mr. President and myself — that we have a common position, common opinion, about Russia,” he added.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Tusk diverged over the leaders’ assessments of the intentions and policies of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, with Mr. Tusk expressing a far more skeptical view, according to a person with direct knowledge of the meeting who insisted on anonymity to discuss talks that were held privately.

Mr. Tusk, a former prime minister of Poland, did say that “when it comes to the conflict in Ukraine, it seems that we were on the same line.”

The leaders also found agreement on counterterrorism. “I’m sure that I don’t have to explain why,” said Mr. Tusk, in an apparent reference to the terrorist attack in Manchester, England.

But European leaders are trying to persuade Mr. Trump not to withdraw the United States from the 195-nation Paris Accord, one of several issues on the agenda for an organization that Mr. Trump has called into question with his support for Britain’s decision to leave and for populist euroskeptics like Marine Le Pen, the French leader of the far-right National Front.

Mr. Tusk, who warned this year that Mr. Trump was threatening Europe’s stability, made his priorities for the meeting clear at a prize-giving ceremony the previous evening.

It was, Mr. Tusk told his audience, “important to keep our relations with the United States as close as possible and as long as possible — at least for as long as this value remains a priority also on the other side of the Atlantic.”

Mr. Tusk said he would try to convince Mr. Trump “that euroatlantism is primarily cooperation of the free for the sake of freedom; that if we want to prevent the scenario that has already been named by our opponents not so long ago in Munich as the ‘post-West world order,’ we should watch over our legacy of freedom together.”

—James Kanter

Trans-Atlantic tensions, and a white-knuckled handshake.


President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron of France at the United States Embassy in Brussels. Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

But if Mr. Trump’s European hosts hoped that his visit to Brussels would thaw the ice left over from the dismissive comments he made about the European project during the 2016 campaign, the atmosphere before the morning meeting suggested the trans-Atlantic tensions hadn’t entirely vanished.

As they waited for Mr. Trump and Mr. Tusk, the American and European delegations did not say a word to each another, clustering in groups on the opposite sides of a rectangular conference table.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis chatted with Gary D. Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, and Dina Powell, a deputy national security adviser. Across the table, the European Union’s high representative, Federica Mogherini, huddled with her aides.

When Mr. Tusk arrived with the president, he spoke of how important a day this was for the European-American relationship. “Thank you very much,” Mr. Trump said, but he was otherwise silent as he gazed at a forest of cameras and boom mikes arrayed at one end of the room.

After the meeting, Mr. Trump headed to the Belgian residence of the United States ambassador, where he had a working lunch with Mr. Macron.

Mr. Trump showered the French president with praise for his recent election win. Mr. Macron, he said, “had a tremendous victory, all over the world they’re talking about it.”

Mr. Macron, speaking in French, said he was “very happy” to be with Mr. Trump. The two had an “extremely large agenda to discuss,” he said.

But it was their handshake that raised eyebrows.

The 70-year-old American and the 39-year-old Frenchman grabbed each other’s hands in what began as a manly greeting and ended as a kind of good-natured death grip. Jaws clenching, faces alternating between smiles and grimaces, the two men shook until Mr. Trump’s knuckles turned white.

At one point, the president tried to pull away, only to have Mr. Macron clasp his hand even harder and keep pumping. Finally, the second time Mr. Trump pulled away, Mr. Macron let him go.

—Mark Landler

Meanwhile, Mr. Obama gets a warm welcome in Germany.


Thousands turned out for speeches by former President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Thursday at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Credit Christof Stache/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The former president basked in the affection of Berliners and returned the favor on Thursday during an appearance with the German chancellor, endorsing Mrs. Merkel’s refugee policies as she seeks a fourth term. In the process, he took a swipe at his successor.

“We can’t hide behind a wall,” Mr. Obama said when discussing the difficulties of leading nations through war, peace, migration and climate change. His remark seemed clearly aimed at Mr. Trump, who has vowed to build a wall along the United States border with Mexico.

Mr. Trump was not mentioned once during the 90-minute Obama-Merkel appearance.

Mr. Obama, 55, and Ms. Merkel, 62, were celebrated by tens of thousands of people to Protestant church celebrations of 500 years since Martin Luther began the Reformation. Mr. Obama received an even warmer welcome than the German leader did, and stirred a particularly rousing reception when he mentioned his wife, Michelle.

The appearance affirmed Mr. Obama’s status as Europe’s favorite American leader. While he reminded his large audience (the event was broadcast live on German television) of how he had quested for peace, Mr. Trump was in Brussels urging the NATO alliance to do more in the war against the Islamic State.

—Alison Smale

NATO says it will formally join the coalition fight against ISIS.


Jens Stoltenberg, secretary general of NATO, at a news conference in Brussels on Wednesday. Credit Virginia Mayo/Associated Press

The announcement by the Atlantic alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, was another gesture toward Mr. Trump.

“This will send a strong political message of NATO’s commitment to the fight against terrorism,” Mr. Stoltenberg said. But a message is what it mostly was. The United States, after all, formed the coalition, which it leads and runs out of its military headquarters, without major NATO input, though numerous member nations are also part of the coalition fighting the Islamic State.

NATO has had a small mission in Iraq to train soldiers there and will enhance it, but will much change now that it has agreed to formally join the coalition? Probably not.

—Steven Erlanger

Belgians take to the streets in protest against Mr. Trump.

Amid the pomp and ceremony, however, ordinary Belgians gave Mr. Trump a rather chilly reception.


Protesters dressed as the Statue of Liberty marched under an American flag during a demonstration in Brussels on Wednesday. Credit Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Thousands marched on Wednesday to protest his presence, carrying signs that read “Solidarity with the women of the whole world,” “No ban, no wall” and “Trump go away.” At one point, #TrumpNotWelcome was the No. 1 trending hashtag on Twitter in Belgium.

Five Greenpeace activists climbed a crane to hoist a sign saying “Resist” near the American Embassy.

And the Ancienne Belgique concert hall put up a sign that said, “Don’t duck for Donald.”

—Claire Barthelemy

The president’s response on Manchester: ‘We will win this fight’ against terrorism.

Ahead of the NATO meeting, Mr. Trump met the Belgian prime minister, Charles Michel, on Wednesday and spoke at a news conference in which he denounced those who were behind the bombing attack in Manchester, England, that left 22 people dead, including children, and about 60 others injured.

What do European Union leaders really want from Mr. Trump?


Pence: U.S. Stands With European Union

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday reassured the European Union of President Trump’s support during a joint news conference in Brussels.

Photo by Olivier Hoslet/European Pressphoto Agency. Watch in Times Video »

Simply put: More Mike Pence.

Ms. Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said at a news conference on Wednesday that she would welcome the same “message of continuity” about trans-Atlantic cooperation that Vice President Pence brought by visiting Brussels in February, soon after Mr. Trump took office.

Mr. Pence’s visit was “a clear sign” of “willingness to work together,” Ms. Mogherini said.

Her comments represent a widely held hope in Brussels that Mr. Trump will avoid bashing the European project in favor of constructive dialogue on global challenges.

Ms. Mogherini said she wanted Mr. Trump to discuss carrying out the Paris agreement on climate change, which he has previously threatened to abandon, and investing in multilateral organizations like the United Nations, where the Trump administration wants further funding cuts.

—James Kanter

Source: NYT > World

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