Trump says Putin is not enemy or friend but ‘competitor’
Sevil Erkuş - BRUSSELS
>“Is he my enemy? He is not my enemy ... Hopefully someday maybe he will be a friend. I just don’t know him very well,” he said speaking at a press conference at the NATO Summit when asked if he presented a threat.
In his meeting with the Russian leader, Trump said he would raise issues of arms control, extending New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), and Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).
“We go into that meeting not looking for so much. We want to find out about Syria. We will be talking about meddling ... We will be talking about Ukraine,” he said.
Trump said Putin would see there is a great unity in NATO. NATO allies also expressed the opposite of concerns about his meeting with Putin and looked positively upon it.
The U.S. commitment to the alliance “remains very strong” after the NATO summit in Brussels and allies had made “unprecedented commitments” to increase spending on their own defense, he said, adding that even NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg thanked him.
His comments come after an unscheduled crisis meeting of the 29 alliance leaders early on July 12 over the issue of burden sharing.
When asked if he would change his mind and post a tweet at Air Force One, Trump said no.
“I am very consistent. I am a very stable genius,” said the U.S. president.
Elaborating on claims that he threatened the allies for withdrawing from NATO, Trump said he thought he could pull out of NATO without congressional approval, but “it’s not necessary.”
He said there is a “better spirit for NATO” amid reports he threated to pull the U.S. out of the alliance in a dispute over defense spending.
Trump also said he is “not happy about Crimea.” Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The U.S. president still blames his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for allowing that to happen.
On the question of whether the U.S. would continue cooperating with Kurds in Iraq, Trump said “I think Kurds are great people. They are incredible fighters. They are wonderful, warm, intelligent allies.”