What we’re watching: July 9 to July 15, 2018

♦ One of the busiest and perhaps most consequential weeks in European geopolitics since Donald Trump was elected. The President begins a 7-day trip to Europe with a meeting Tuesday with NATO Secretary General Stoltenburg in Brussels, followed by a summit of NATO leaders Wed and Thurs. He will then make his first official visit to the UK, attending a gala dinner Thurs night at magnificent Blenheim Palace near Oxford, complete with a military ceremony in the Great Court and concert. On Fri, Trump holds a working meeting with Prime Minister May at Chequers followed by tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle. Sat and Sun will be spent at Turnberry in Ayrshire (one of Trump’s two golf courses in Scotland), before flying to Helsinki Sun night prior to his first full meeting with President Putin on Mon. They will have two sessions and a luncheon before Trump heads home.
♦ The media have pitched the NATO summit as the occasion for a major row among leaders over defence spending, but it’s not likely the debate will be particularly heated. Trump has already made his views known in letters to individual leaders, and the fact is that in the last three years cumulative spending among European and Canadian allies is up by 4.8% (amounting to US$46 billion). Of more immediate interest will be US policy towards Russia, the negotiations on the denuclearization of North Korea, and the regime of sanctions on Iran.
♦ Before he sits down with Trump next Monday, Putin will be having meetings this week with Israeli PM Netanyahu (Jul 11) and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas (Jul 13).

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