Calls to scrap Trump-Putin summit

- President Trump's trip to Europe has been a public shakeup of traditional U.S. foreign policy, as he openly criticized longtime allies and reached out to rivals. 

President Trump emerged from a meeting Friday, walking down stairs hand-in-hand with British Prime Minister Teresa May, just one day after blasting her in a British tabloid. The President claims The Sun omitted the nice things he said about her.

"When I saw her this morning I said I want to apologize because I said such good things about you," said President Trump at a joint press conference with May.

President Trump and the First Lady received a welcome Friday at Windsor Castle from Queen Elizabeth who invited them for tea. In London, however, thousands of people filled the streets in anti-Trump protests, pulling a giant balloon depicting President Trump as a baby, reflecting some of the concerns overseas. 

President Trump had scolded NATO allies for not paying more and reportedly threatened to pull out of the longtime military alliance.

"The contrast between the President's disparagement of longstanding European allies on the one hand and his self-evident eagerness to meet with Vladimir Putin on the other hand is really unsettling," said Daniel Sargent, an Assistant Professor with the UC Berkeley History Department, who specializes in foreign policy.

The President's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin is still scheduled to be held Monday in Finland, despite the U.S. Department of Justice's indictments Friday linking Russian operatives to active meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

President Trump said he will ask Putin about the Russian election meddling. 

"I don't think you'll have any, Gee I did it I did it you got me. There won't be a Perry Mason here I don't think. But you never know what happens Right?" said the President, "But I will absolutely firmly ask the question and hopefully we'll have a very good relationship with Russia."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and even Republican Senator John McCain called for canceling the meeting.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement, "Glad-handing with Vladimir Putin on the heels of these indictments would be an insult to our democracy."

President Trump listed other topics that he plans to put on the table Monday. 

"Ukraine, Syria, we'll be talking about other parts of the Middle East. I will be talking about nuclear proliferation," said President Trump.

One area of discussion might be the "New Start" nuclear treaty which limits Russia and the U.S to no more than 700 ICBMs, 1,550 nuclear warheads, and 800 missile launchers.

The treaty expires in 2021 and both sides have been moving to modernization that could involve a new type of arms race, the stockpiling of so-called "low-yield" smaller types of nuclear weapons. 

"I am not going in with high expectations but we may come out with some very surprising things," President Trump said Friday.

"I think in foreign policy you see a recurrent tendency to personalize high level relationships with foreign countries," said Professor Sargent, adding that the results can vary widely, "Reagan engaged with Gorbachev because he thought that Gorbachev is a good guy.  Trump engages with Putin because he thinks Putin is a tough guy, and there's a world of difference."

Sargent also says President Trump's questioning of NATO's importance could jeopardize the military alliance that has kept Europe relatively stable since World War II.

"Russia does not have to be an enemy of the United States but it is a geopolitical rival,'" said Sargent, "And the United States is in a stronger position to engage Russia if it has robust and high-functioning alliances with longstanding partners in Western Europe and northeast Asia." 

President Trump and President Putin have met at least three times and had eight phone calls in the last 18 months. 

They will meet at one of the Finnish President's residences, the 19th century Presidential Palace in Helsinki Monday.
 

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