Washington, July 11: US President Donald Trump said prior to his leaving for a Europe tour on Tuesday, July 10, that his easiest meeting during the trip might be with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
Trump will first attend the two-day Nato summit in Brussels beginning Wednesday, July 11, before travelling to the UK where he will meet Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth II. Thereafter, he will travel to Finland's capital Helsinki for his first summit with Putin scheduled on July 16.
"I have NATO. I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all," Trump was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
When asked whether he saw Putin as a friend or enemy, Trump said he considered the latter as a "competitor".
Trump also expressed his mind of feeling disappointed with the US's allies as he reiterated that organisations like the Nato and European Union were taking advantage of the US's friendship.
Trump's positions on Putin and American allies have been consistent throughout. Irrespective of what critics have said, Trump has always given the impression that he never views Russia through rigid eyes and on the other hand, he also feels that America's allies have always ignored their part while enjoying the advantage of having a friendship with Washington.
Just as it happened in June when Trump went to meet Kim Jong-un after G7 summit
Trump's latest take on the summit with Putin more than that with the Nato members or the leadership of the UK is almost a mirror image of what transpired in the second week of June. Then, Trump had gone to Canada to attend the 44th summit of the G7 or rich men's club on June 8-9 in the wake of a serious trade war with allies like Canada, Japan, EU, etc.
Trump was reportedly also not happy with going to the G7 summit for it was just ahead of his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12 over the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
The American president was visibly more comfortable with the North Korean dictator than the company of the elected leaders at the G7 summit. He again let know his mindset in July by preferring his meeting with Putin, again allegedly a leader who rules by iron fist, over a number of democratic leaders at the Nato or even the leader of the UK, considered a close partner of the US in international affairs.
Trump not first US president to 'like' dictators
Trump has been often accused of appreciating dictators while not embracing democratically elected governments and it is said that by doing so, he sets up a bad precedent as the head of the world's most saluted democracy.
This allegation doesn't stand much ground since Trump is not the first president of the US to appreciate the company of unelected leaders. The US has had enough dictatorial friends throughout history even though it treated some as more equal than others, depending upon their strategic and political needs.
Hence, it is futile to blame Trump to have started a new trend.
Also, Trump is not only more individualistic but also honest in putting his views straight, even if they are not always technically sound.
Trump perhaps likes the dictators because he identifies himself well with them as personality-centric rulers. It makes no sense to expect him to gel with each democratically elected leader just because they are democratically elected.
Trump has his moments of hyper-activisim no doubt but to find a common link between his 'weakness' for dictators is equally farcical. As leaders of nations that matter, it is Trump's responsibility to get along with them well, afterall.