WASHINGTON — Trade tensions between the U.S. and longtime allies have thus far not bled over into military activities at NATO, the U.S. ambassador to the treaty organization said Sunday ahead of President Donald Trumps trip to Europe later this week.
“One thing I will say is that in all of the disagreements that we have seen at the G7 and with allies with whom we are now having trade talks and negotiations and tariffs, that has not come up in the NATO context,” U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told “Fox News Sunday.” “Our diplomats are professional and they are staying on our NATO issues, where we are 100 percent allied.”
The presidents trip to Europe this week will begin with a stop in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday for a NATO summit, where Trump will once again come face-to-face with world leaders with whom he clashed badly at last months G7 summit in Canada.
Trump has complained loudly about U.S. trade relationships with longtime allies, including Canada and the European Union, arguing that his nation is treated unfairly. In an effort to reset those relationships on more favorable terms for the U.S., Trump has imposed tariffs on certain imports, prompting the EU and Canada to implement retaliatory tariffs.
The escalating trade tensions have put the U.S. at odds with longtime allies and partners even as Trump has sought improved relations with North Koreas Kim Jong Un, whom he met in Singapore last month on the heels of the contentious G7 summit, and Russias Vladimir Putin, with whom the U.S. president will meet in Finland at the tail end of his Europe trip.
With Trump and Putin set to meet, Hutchison warned that she believes Russia is attempting to flip Turkey, a NATO member, and other allies against the U.S. She said Trump has spoken to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to urge him against purchasing a Russian anti-aircraft system, telling “Fox News Sunday” that the prospective purchase would “affect the interoperability of our NATO forces” there.
More broadly, Hutchison, a former Republican senator from Texas, credited Trump for an uptick in defense spending by NATO members, an issue the U.S. president has harped on since the 2016 campaign. Trump, the U.S. ambassador to NATO said, has succeeded in forcing such a spending increase where other presidents have failed in the past.
“NATO really is making progress and they are doing it really at President Trumps insistence, and I think that its very clear, and hes been very direct about the Europeans needing to do more for their own security,” Hutchinson said. “Ive worked for, probably — with three presidents, all of whom have said the same thing. Now I think for the first time we are really seeing the Europeans actually start going in the right direction.”