By Alisha Haridasani
President Trump on Thursday wrapped the NATO summit, leaving behind a trail of confusion, and landed in London where he faces chaos and anger.
The president, despite hurling criticism at the military alliance for days, reaffirmed American commitment to the organization.
“I believe in NATO,” he said in an press conference in Brussels. He then went on to proclaim that NATO members had agreed to increasing their defense spending.
Moments later, though, French president Emmanuel Macron disputed Trump’s claims, saying all 29 members had re-committed to the previous spending target of 2 percent of their GDP.
The confusion was further compounded by Trump's reported behavior in private meetings with NATO leaders, where he was characteristically combative and threatened to pull out of the alliance unless members met their 2 percent targets by January.
Trump is now in London to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May in what is his first visit to the British capital since becoming president.
May was the first foreign leader to visit Trump at the White House in 2017 and invited him to visit her country in an attempt to solidify the decades-long 'special relationship' between the UK and the U.S.
Trump, however, soured that relationship many times. He slammed London Mayor Sadiq Khan for mishandling the aftermath of the June terror attack in the British capital. Trump also controversially retweeted a video from a far-right British party, a move that drew the ire of many Britons.
All of these incidents added pressure on May to revoke her invitation to Trump. Instead, what had been an state visit was downgraded to a working visit, which means the Queen does not officially host the president and the first lady as she has done with previous U.S. presidents. But Trump will still meet with the Queen at Windsor Castle on Friday. During a state visit, foreign leaders are invited to address the British Parliament ー Trump will not be given that chance.
Prior to his flight from Brussels to London, Trump said: "I think they like me a lot in the UK."
Tens of thousands of protesters would disagree. Trump's visit has inspired Londoners to pull together a “Carnival of Resistance” that will feature massive crowds marching through the streets, a giant balloon of a baby Trump floating in the skies, and a group of people blaring trumpets to make a "bad noise for bad times".
"Having a special relationship means that we expect the highest standards from each other," said Mayor Khan, who signed off on the baby balloon. "It also means speaking out when we think the values we hold dear are under threat."
After London, Trump will head to Finland on Monday to meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin, a one-on-one private conversation that has raised concern among global allies and congressional lawmakers back at home.