US President Donald Trump said Thursday (July 5) at a rally in Montana that he plans to press the European Union on trade and that he is "fully prepared" to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Trump, who is set to leave for Europe on Tuesday, will hold meetings with NATO allies in Brussels, visit Britain, and then meet Putin in Helsinki for a one-on-one meeting on July 16.
Trump continued to address his concerns about the financial support that European countries are providing to NATO. "The United States of America was the piggy bank that everybody was robbing," he said. "And let me tell you, our allies in many cases were worse than our enemies."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would back lowering EU tariffs on US car imports.
An industry source told Reuters that the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, had mentioned to German auto executives that US President Donald Trump could abandon threatened tariffs on imported European cars if in return the European Union scrapped duties on US cars.
On Thursday US officials said the United States will drill down on Russia's "malign activity" during summits with NATO allies, signalling a harder line against Moscow than Trump has traditionally taken.
The US president, whose 2016 election campaign is being probed for possible collusion with Russia, has said repeatedly he wants to have a good relationship with Washington's former Cold War foe, despite tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Syria and alleged election meddling around the world.