Trump reverses himself on NATO, China, Russia and more

Apr 18, 2017, 01:43
Trump reverses himself on NATO, China, Russia and more

"I complained about that a long time ago, and they made a change - and now they do fight terrorism", Trump said.

Standing alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House on Wednesday, Trump praised the alliance as "no longer obsolete", noting that he discussed both of his grievances with Stoltenberg during their meeting.

At a joint press conference with Mr Stoltenberg, Mr Trump said, himself and the secretary general had a productive discussion about what more North Atlantic Treaty Organisation can do in the fight against terrorism.

Stoltenberg, also appearing on CNN's "New Day", told the program that after many years of decline in defense spending in Europe and Canada, now there has been an increase, and Trump's call that the member states pay more may have been helpful.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while tensions between Russia and the USA remain high over Russia's support for Syria, a week after the Assad regime carried out a chemical attack against civilians in northern Syria.

"I was very impressed with President Xi and I think he means well and I think he wants to help", Trump said.

"He and his security team reconfirmed their strong support for NATO", Stoltenberg told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. When the president is so self-admittedly "flexible", there are real and dramatic consequences to who's up and who's down in the West Wing, and we've seen them in stark relief this week. He also publicly thrashed White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, declaring, "I'm my own strategist" and suggesting that the man he once said he has known "for many years" was just "a guy who works for me". And when other countries give it, we lose a tremendous amount of business.

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"I don't know Putin, but wouldn't it be nice if we could get along actually?" he said in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in October 2016.

The flip-flop capped off a 24-hour period of freaky reversals on positions Trump held throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.

Given Trump's extraordinary series of about-faces over the past few days, it would be quite understandable if his most fervent supporters were looking at each other today and asking, "Who is this guy, and what has he done with our president?"

Then, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump announced he no longer considers China a currency manipulator. "It is time to end this brutal civil war, defeat terrorists, and allow refugees to return home", he said. What is true is that China has not been artificially depressing its currency for some time now, so Trump's change in position is really just catching up with economic reality.

Trump's embrace of moderate positions also suggests a waning influence among the hard-line nationalist White House advisers who helped Trump win the election, as well as the rise of other advisers - many of whom hail from NY - who have more centrist, even left-leaning views.

General Secretary Stoltenberg praised the U.S. deployment in Eastern Europe and talked up the strength of the Alliance, underscoring the 2% commitment to defense expenditure.

"I don't know Putin", he said on Wednesday at the joint press conference with Mr Stoltenberg.