Who Trump will meet on his European tour


The US president will come face-to-face with world leaders and royalty this week. There’s speculation he could also make the World Cup final.

Donald Trump doesn’t like spending too much time away from home, so when the US president travels abroad, he likes to pack a lot in.

His European jaunt, which kicks off on Wednesday, will be a busy, high stakes affair. He’ll meet with NATO leaders as well as the Queen, Theresa May and of course, Vladimir Putin.

Here’s what’s on the agenda:

11-12 July: NATO Summit, Brussels

Leaders are likely to be all smiles for the traditional ‘family photo’ at the start of the summit, but it may not last long. Mr Trump is going to Brussels with one main goal; to make other NATO nations pay their 'fair share'.

The US spends significantly more on its military than other countries in the North Atlantic alliance and Mr Trump has not been shy in asking the others to increase their contributions.

NATO members set a guideline to spend at least two per cent of their GDP on defence, but few nations do. At a recent rally, Mr Trump said Americans are “the schmucks who pay for the whole thing”, singling out German Chancellor Angela Merkel in his criticism.

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump
Angela Merkel, left, and Donald Trump during the G7 summit in Canada in June.

“You know, Angela, I can’t guarantee it, but we’re protecting you and it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don’t know how much protection we get by protecting you,” he said.

The US representative at NATO has tried to play down reports that Trump is considering pulling American troops out of Germany over the issue.

12-14 July: UK visit 

After Brussels, Mr Trump and his wife Melania will head straight to a black-tie dinner at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, in Oxfordshire. It will be hosted by British Prime Minister Theresa May with business leaders from major British and American companies also in attendance.

President Trump and first lady Melania return to the White House
Donald and Melania Trump.

Trump will later watch a military exercise before travelling to Chequers, the prime minister's country estate in Buckinghamshire, for bilateral talks.

Mrs May has had a rocky relationship with the president and the meeting comes off the back of a tough week in which both her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit Secretary David Davis quit. A post-Brexit trade deal is expected to be discussed.

The Trumps will then meet the Queen at Windsor Castle, where cameras are normally allowed in for the first 20 seconds. Sadly, the retirement of Prince Philip means there won’t be any quips from the Duke of Edinburgh.

Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip
Mr Trump is set to meet the Queen for the first time.

Because it’s a working visit, rather than a state visit, there will be a distinct lack of pomp and ceremony usually afforded world leaders. And by staying away from central London, Mr Trump will avoid the massive protests planned there – including the display of a six-metre-tall inflatable baby Trump.

“What we say to Donald Trump is ‘please come and see the carnival of resistance’,” activist Shaista Aziz told SBS News. “See it for yourself, hear it for yourself and feel it for yourself.”

But Mr Trump does have his supporters in Britain.

“I don’t think these protests are going to be as big as people are expecting,” Trump fan Drew Liquerman said. “I think he has thick skin. He’s here to do more important things than worry about some protestors on the street.”

15 July: Mystery location

On the final leg of their UK visit, the Trumps will head to Scotland for what’s being described as a “private weekend”. It’s assumed he’ll head to one of his two golf courses there. Mr Trump’s mother was Scottish, so there’s a chance he’ll travel to the Isle of Lewis where she was born and raised.

The schedule also leaves open the possibility of the president attending the FIFA World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday 15 July (1am Monday AEST).

Mr Trump recently said Russia was doing a “fantastic job” hosting the tournament and his son Barron is a big football fan. The 2026 World Cup was also awarded to the US, Mexico and Canada in joint-bid in June.

A quick trip seems unlikely - the security operation would be enormous and it’s unclear if the president has ever watched a full 90-minute match.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last month there was “no special plan” to invite Mr Trump to the final, but also added "no special invitations are needed. You know... that Moscow will welcome any head of state, any government member, any monarch," according to a report by FourFourTwo.

Whatever the decision, Mr Trump will meet Mr Putin the very next day.

16 July: US-Russia Summit, Helsinki

“Putin’s fine!” was Mr Trump’s view on the Russian leader, shared at a recent rally.

“They’re going ‘will Trump be prepared? President Putin is KGB and this and that’,” he continued. “He’s fine, we’re all fine. We’re people. I’ve been preparing for this stuff my whole life.”

The US-Russia summit is the one many have been waiting for.

Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in 2017.
Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit in Hamburg in 2017.

There will be a photo opportunity, with the two leaders shaking hands, plus a one-on-one chat.

What they’ll talk about isn’t entirely clear. Possible topics include the conflict in Syria, Russian election meddling and the annexation of Crimea.

A recent report claimed Mr Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea should be Russian because everyone living there speaks Russian. Ukraine’s president and nearly every other leader in the Western world would strongly disagree.

Mathiew Boulegue, an expert in Russian and Eurasian affairs at London’s Chatham House, thinks Mr Putin will flatter Mr Trump and seek concessions.

“I think President Putin will try to talk President Trump into reintroducing Russia into the G8,” he told SBS News.

“It is very important these two men talk. The problem is you have the script, then what happens off-script.”

Mr Boulegue believes the summit will be useful for Mr Putin domestically. 

“It is definitely going to be used in terms of internal political propaganda, following the FIFA World Cup, showing that Russia is becoming a normalised power and an acceptable world power.”

And while the above is the planned schedule, with Mr Trump, you can never be sure exactly what will happen on the day. It’s likely to be a European trip to remember.

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