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Trump Nato summit: ‘Tough’ talks ahead over military spending

Trump Nato summit: 'Tough' talks ahead over military spending

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Media captionDonald Trump met new French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time

US President Donald Trump is in Brussels for what his team is describing as "tough" talks with other members of the Nato military alliance.

Nato has agreed to Mr Trump's request to join the US-led coalition against so-called Islamic State.

But he may also press members to pay their full financial share.

For the American president, it is also a chance to meet several EU leaders for the first time, including France's new President, Emmanuel Macron.

The atmosphere between the US conservative and the French centrist appeared strained when they met at the US embassy.

The two leaders clasped each other's hands, leaning in towards each other slightly. Mr Trump started to pull away, but Mr Macron held on tighter and refused to let him go, the BBC's Tara McKelvey reports.

Is Russia on the agenda?

After meeting Mr Trump, EU President Donald Tusk said they had agreed on "many areas" but had differences over Russia.

"I'm not 100% sure we can say that we have a common position, a common opinion on Russia, although when it comes to the conflict on Ukraine we were on the same line," he said.

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Image caption The EU's Mr Tusk (L) is aiming to convince Mr Trump of the need for more co-operation

Mr Trump has been criticised for his admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his administration is embroiled in allegations of close ties with Russian interests.

Mr Tusk stressed the "fundamental Western values like freedom, human rights, respect for human dignity" at the heart of relations with the US.

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Will Nato be doing more to defeat IS?

The Nato gathering will see the alliance agree to a US plan for Nato to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamist militants, particularly IS, but France and Germany insist the move is mostly symbolic.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Nato states would contribute more in terms of information-sharing and air-to-air refuelling.

"This will send a strong political message of Nato's commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our co-ordination within the coalition but it does not mean that Nato will engage in combat operations," he said.

There are concerns that Nato joining the anti-IS coalition could lead to the alliance becoming embroiled in post-conflict Iraq or Libya as it did in Afghanistan, says the BBC's Jonathan Marcus.

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Image caption Demonstrations against the US president were held in Brussels

Mr Trump has voiced criticism of other Nato countries for spending less on defence than an agreed 2% of national output.

Ahead of Thursday's meetings, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters that Mr Trump "really wants to persuade Nato members to step up and fully meet their obligations".

He added: "I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them."

Minor diplomatic masterpiece: analysis by BBC Europe correspondent Kevin Connolly

Donald Trump's timetable in Brussels is a minor diplomatic masterpiece of its kind, maximising as it does the number of meetings and minimising the amount of public speaking and press scrutiny which will follow them.

In the morning he meets leaders of the EU, among them European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who once complained that two years would be wasted educating the new president about a world he does not know.

In the afternoon he is at the headquarters of Nato, an organisation he once described as "obsolete" and whose European members he's criticised for not spending enough on their own defence.

It will not be difficult, though, to construct an agenda for those meetings which focuses on very broad areas of agreement – like the importance of the fight against terrorism – and if the day proceeds without diplomatic incident, Europe's leaders will at least be able to reflect on face-to-face meetings with the world's most talked about political personality.

Where else has Trump been this week?

He arrived in Brussels on Wednesday from Rome where he met Pope Francis at the Vatican.

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Media captionDonald Trump was greeted by Pope Francis at the Vatican

Before that, he had been to Israel and the Palestinian territories, where he vowed to try to achieve peace in the region, and to Saudi Arabia, where he urged Muslim countries to take the lead in combating radicalisation.

Mr Trump will end his tour on the Italian island of Sicily at the G7 summit on Friday.

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