US President Donald Trump, who last January called the Belgian capital a “hellhole”, will attend a summit of leaders of NATO nations on 25 May in Brussels, the White House said yesterday (21 March).
Trump’s visit will give him an opportunity to press his case for why many NATO allies need to boost defence spending to help spread the cost of the security umbrella.
Trump has made key European allies nervous with his demands that they increase defense spending and his talk of establishing an alliance with Russia to counter Islamic State militants.
“The president looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism,” a White House statement said.
Trump will welcome NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to the White House on 12 April to discuss “how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security”, the statement said.
Before he was elected, Trump had called Brussels a “hellhole”, unleashing a tsunami of ironic comments by residents of the EU’s capital in social media.
The US Vice-President Mike Pence and the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis have already visited Brussels.
Pence was greeted in Brussels with protests. People of all ages and nationalities braved the cold to protest a man many find offensive due to his far right stances on abortion, sexuality and climate.