• Mr. Trump said on Thursday that at a meeting in Brussels, NATO allies had agreed to his demand for a significant increase in military spending. But he offered no specifics, and leaders of some other NATO nations rebutted the claim.
• Mr. Trump said that he remained committed to the alliance, and he signed a joint declaration that largely reaffirmed existing NATO obligations — though it was at odds with some of his own statements.
• In Britain, Mr. Trump will be greeted by the prime minister, the queen — and thousands of protesters. He is scheduled to meet in Finland on Monday with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
• The New York Times has live coverage of his seven-day, three-nation trip, from our White House reporters and European correspondents. Photographs from Mr. Trump’s weeklong trip are here.
Trump says he is committed to NATO, despite criticism
Mr. Trump strongly recommitted American support for NATO, a bedrock of Western security policy for generations, on Thursday, comments that at least temporarily calmed fears that he might move toward dismantling the alliance.
“The United States commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong,” he said at a news conference in Brussels. “I believe in NATO.”
But if Mr. Trump’s public remarks were friendly, the tone behind closed doors was much harsher. Officials from other countries voiced fears that even if he had not broken an alliance that was first formed in 1949 to contain the Soviet Union, he had thrown some sand in its gears.
Mr. Trump insisted that despite his criticism of the alliance and some of its member countries, there was no animosity in private meetings with other leaders.
“There’s a great, very collegial spirit in that room,” he said. “Very unified, very strong, no problem”
According to a person briefed on Mr. Trump’s meeting with other NATO leaders, Mr. Trump said that if the other countries did not increase military spending to 2 percent of their economic output by January, the United States “would go it alone.”
What that would mean was not clear to the officials who were present. White House officials did not immediately respond to requests to explain Mr. Trump’s comment, or to say whether he was suggesting that the United States could withdraw from NATO.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, dismissed such concerns as unfounded.
“Generally I do not comment on what goes on behind the scenes, but at no moment did President Trump — neither bilaterally nor multilaterally — say that he was intending to leave NATO,” Mr. Macron said.
Mr. Trump has not held a news conference on American soil for more than a year. But on Thursday, flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, he took questions from reporters for over a half an hour.
He dismissed any concern that his relationship with Russia was too cozy or that his relationship with allies was too harsh. — Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger
Did NATO agree to spending increases? 2 European leaders say no.
Mr. Trump said that other NATO countries had agreed to significant increases in military spending in response to his demands.
But within a few hours, Emmanuel Macron, the French president, and Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s prime minister, said the allies had simply agreed to keep a 2014 commitment to increase military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024.
“A communiqué was issued yesterday,” Mr. Macron told reporters after the meeting in Brussels. “This communiqué is clear. It reaffirms the 2 percent by 2024 commitments. That’s all.”
Mr. Conte said: “Italy inherited spending commitments to NATO, commitments that we did not change, so no increase in spending. As far as we’re concerned, today we did not decide to offer extra contributions with respect to what was decided some time ago.”
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, said that her country would consider more spending, but said nothing about making any new commitments. And she undercut the notion that reconsideration of Germany’s defense budget was due simply to American pressure.
“Given the discussion of many European allies here, not just the American discussion, I think we have to ask again and again what else can we possibly do,” she said.
Mr. Trump has insisted that NATO countries meet the 2 percent threshold right away, and that the long-term target be doubled to 4 percent.
“The additional money that they’re willing to put up has been really amazing,” Mr. Trump said, without addressing amounts or a timetable. “Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment.”
Mr. Trump once again hailed himself as a “very stable genius” and took “total credit” for persuading his allies to increase military spending. And he took credit for other NATO countries having increased their military spending by $ 33 billion in the last year.
“I don‘t think that’s helping Russia,” he said. “I think NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago.”
— Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger
After NATO: The prime minister, the queen and protests
Mr. Trump landed on Thursday afternoon in Britain, where he will remain through Sunday, and will be greeted with pomp and protests. The president will meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II, while thousands of people are expected to demonstrate against him.
Mr. Trump has clashed openly with the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, but Mrs. May has tried to avoid any serious disruptions to the “special relationship,” with an eye toward a trade deal that is to be negotiated after Britain leaves the European Union.
The president will hopscotch across the London area by air, avoiding traffic, protests, and, yes, that giant, diapered-baby float. The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans in London to “keep a low profile” from Thursday until Saturday.
But he might not be able to ignore the demonstrators entirely. Before flying to England, Mr. Trump said, “I think they like me a lot in the U.K.,” but public opinion polls indicate that, in fact, he is unpopular in the country.
On Thursday evening, demonstrators will gather in Regent’s Park in London and blast music and the sounds of crying children at Winfield House, the vast, neo-Georgian mansion that is the official residence of the United States ambassador to Britain, where Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, are staying.
An even larger set of protests is planned for Friday, including a march to a rally in Trafalgar Square, and a separate demonstration in Parliament Square. In fact, protests are planned for every stage of his trip to Britain, including in the town of Windsor and in Scotland.
(Ceylan Yeginsu looks at the less-than-friendly greetings being planned for the president in Britain.)
On Thursday evening, the Trumps will fly to Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill, for a dinner hosted by Mrs. May.
Each leader faces daunting political challenges, both domestically and in dealing with frustrated allies, but they have maintained an air of cordiality between them in their past dealings, .
(Stephen Castle and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, look to Trump’s visit to Britain, explain why the American president’s visit could be an ordeal more than anything else, despite the “special relationship.”)
Air Force One landed early Thursday afternoon at Stansted Airport, and then a helicopter took the president and his entourage to Winfield House, in Regents Park. With Beatles music playing in the background, Ambassador Woody Johnson greeted Mr. and Mrs. Trump, with the president’s chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and his national security adviser, John R. Bolton, following a few paces behind.
Buckingham Palace has released a detailed agenda for the visit with the queen on Friday. She will welcome the Trumps at the Quadrangle of Windsor Castle, where an honor guard will perform the national anthem and give a royal salute. Then it’s on to tea.
On Saturday, he will fly from London to Scotland, where he will stay overnight at his Trump Turnberry golf club, before flying on Sunday to Helsinki. — Ceylan Yeginsu and Katie Rogers
Trump signs a NATO declaration at odds with his own statements
Despite his attacks on allied countries and his insistence that they should pay much more, Mr. Trump joined 28 other national leaders on Wednesday in signing a NATO declaration that reaffirmed existing commitments, including the 2 percent military spending target.
[Read the full story here.]
The 23-page, 79-point NATO declaration, which reflects months of negotiation, censured Russia’s actions in Ukraine in the bluntest terms: “We strongly condemn Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognize.”
Just over a week ago, the president told reporters on Air Force One that he was considering supporting Russia’s claim to Crimea, which it seized in 2014.
In response to the NATO statement, Russia’s foreign ministry breezily dismissed the alliance as a “useless military bloc.” In a mocking post on Twitter, the ministry said that while NATO “accuses us of provocative activities and continues to grind its teeth in Brussels, we are preparing to watch the 2018 World Cup.”
The allies agreed to a NATO Readiness Initiative, which would allow the group to assemble a fighting force of 30 land battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 warships within 30 days. The initiative reflects a “30-30-30-30” plan pushed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and meant to deter Russian aggression in Europe.
Signing onto a declaration that contrasted sharply with some of his own statements, Mr. Trump left allies and analysts alike a bit off balance.
“Trump is coming through and saying, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Jorge Benitez, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said in an interview. “Trump seems to be defining U.S. national interests that are competitive with our allies and yet cooperative with North Korea, cooperative with Russia, and cooperative with China. That doesn’t seem consistent.” — Katie Rogers
Tight smiles and icy glances take the place of words
Other NATO leaders mostly refrained from responding to Mr. Trump’s disdain and criticism, but the body language at the summit meeting said plenty, and it was not a message of warmth and harmony.
[Read more about the awkwardness of the summit meeting here.]
As the leaders walked to the site of a group photograph, many of them chatting easily with one another, Mr. Trump hung back, with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
When they took their assigned spots, Mr. Trump stood near the center, but his counterparts mostly ignored him, giving him no more than sidelong glances, even as several of them continued conversing.
A number of news organizations noted the awkwardness, drawing rebukes from White House aides, who called it “fake news.”
Hours after Mr. Trump castigated Germany, he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, then the two of them briefed reporters on their conversation. The president smiled and spoke of a “very, very good relationship;” the chancellor did not. — Katie Rogers
On military spending, Trump cites a real imbalance in misleading ways
American presidents have long pressed their NATO counterparts to increase military spending. But Mr. Trump’s insistence that the other nations owe money misstates how the alliance works, and the figures he cites are misleading.
(Our reporters fact-checked the president’s claims on the financial relationship between the United States and other NATO countries.)
NATO has a budget to cover shared costs and some equipment used in joint operations, and all 29 member countries contribute to it. None of the allies has failed to pay its contribution.
Mr. Trump’s complaint is that, while NATO member countries have agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic products on military spending, most do not. But none has violated that agreement, because the 2 percent figure is a target to be reached by 2024.
According to NATO, all members have significantly raised military spending since 2014, and eight are expected to meet the goal this year.
Mr. Trump tweeted on Monday that the United States accounted for 90 percent of military spending by NATO countries, but the alliance says the real figure is about 67 percent. And most American military spending is not NATO-related.
Even so, the organization says on its website, “There is an overreliance by the alliance as a whole on the United States for the provision of essential capabilities, including, for instance, in regard to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air-to-air refueling; ballistic missile defense; and airborne electronic warfare.”
— Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger
Wrapping up the trip: One on one with Putin
Mr. Trump’s first summit meeting with the Russian president will be parsed for countless layers of meaning.
The West’s stance toward Russia is, as always, a central topic at the NATO meeting, and the United States’ European allies are worried that Mr. Trump aims to reduce the American security role in dealing with Moscow.
Russia is waging a proxy war against Ukraine, has forcibly annexed part of that country, has meddled in other nations’ elections, gives crucial support to the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, and stands accused of using a chemical weapon on British soil.
Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign is under investigation for links to Russia, and Mr. Trump, who is quick to aim a barb at almost anyone else, has been reluctant to criticize Mr. Putin. Yet he and his aides bristle at accusations that he is not tough enough with the Kremlin.
The meeting with Mr. Putin will be closely analyzed for signs that Mr. Trump is friendlier to his Russian counterpart than to the leaders he is meeting in Brussels.