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Trump says Putin is not my enemy, he is a competitor

Trump says Putin is neither friend nor foe

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Updated July 12, 2018 07:32 AM EDT

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump says Russian President Vladimir Putin is neither friend nor foe. Instead, the U.S. leader calls Putin a "competitor" and says he is representing the best interests of the Russian people as he represents those of Americans.

Speaking during an unscheduled press conference at the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump says his sit-down with Putin will be "just a loose meeting," but said significant progress could be made in the relationship. The U.S. and Russia leaders are to meet Monday in Helsinki.

Trump's meeting with Putin has been met by skepticism from NATO allies concerned that he will not be sufficiently tough with the leader. Trump says he will raise Russian election meddling in Western elections with Putin.

Updated July 12, 2018 07:32 AM EDT

BRUSSELS (AP) — U.S. President Donald Trump says he'll raise election meddling and arms control when he and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet next week.

Trump also says he is "not happy about Crimea." Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Trump continues to blame his predecessor, President Barack Obama, for allowing that to happen.

Trump says he will ask Putin about election meddling

Speaking at a news conference during a NATO summit in Brussels, Trump says Thursday that alliance members "actually thanked me" for meeting with Putin.

Trump has been criticized for seeking the one-on-one meeting with Putin, scheduled for Monday in Helsinki, in part because of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump describes it as a "loose meeting" and says "we'll see where it leads."

Says Trump: "I think meeting with people is great."

Updated July 12, 2018 07:30 AM EDT

U.S. President Donald Trump says after an emergency session of NATO members, the military alliance is "very unified, very strong, no problem."

The president is speaking at a news conference in Brussels along the sidelines of the annual NATO summit. He says he successfully pushed for NATO members to spend more of their budgets on defense and at a faster pace than previously expected.

Trump says NATO is "more coordinated" and there's a "better spirit for NATO" even amid reports that he threated to pull the United States out of the alliance in a dispute over defense spending.

The president said he probably can withdraw the U.S. from NATO but that such a step is "unnecessary."

Trump says at a news conference that he was "extremely unhappy" with the situation, but that alliance members have upped their commitment in response to his complaints.

Asked whether he's still threatening to pull out of NATO and whether he can do so without buy-in from Congress, Trump said: "I think I probably can but that's unnecessary."

BRUSSELS (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to make a statement at the NATO summit in Brussels.

The White House says the president will address reporters before he departs for the United Kingdom, the next stop on his weeklong visit to Europe.

The statement follows tense discussions at the summit over Trump's criticism of most NATO allies for not spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense as well as his demand that they immediately double such spending. Trump also criticized Germany over a natural gas pipeline deal with Russia.

Two officials at the summit say the alliance is currently meeting in an emergency session amid Trump's demands.

Trump tweeted Thursday morning on NATO here is what he said:

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