Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will meet US president Donald Trump for talks in the White House on Monday, and several Dutch papers are speculating on what the substance of the meeting will cover.
The Telegraaf quotes US ambassador to the Netherlands Pete Hoekstra as saying Trump will be very firm on the trade and the military commitments that the Netherlands is failing to meet.
‘The question of whether the US is still committed to Nato is almost too embarrassing for words,’ says Hoekstra, who says he has devoted a lot of time to preparing the meeting between Trump and Rutte.
The US has made its commitment to Nato plain and has asked American citizens to spend $11bn more on defence in Europe than they did before, Hoekstra said.
‘We spend 3.6% of our GDP on defence. There cannot be a clearer signal of our are commitment to Nato.’ The question the Netherlands should be asking itself, says the ambassador, is: ‘Are you yourselves committed to Nato?’
The Netherlands, Hoekstra says, spends 1.2% of GDP on defence and yet it had agreed to spend 2% of GDP or to have plans to meet that target.
‘The message from Nato will be clear,’ Hoekstra told the paper. ‘You promised to spend 2% on defence. We did not force you to do that. But if you are not even planning to honour that agreement, fine, but then tell your friends and allies.’
Muslim travel ban
The AD says that Rutte’s trip to the US has caused divisions within the four coalition parties because of Trump’s Muslim travel ban.
Rutte is planning to raise the issue of having US customs personnel based on Dutch soil to carry out immigration checks and the Liberal democratic party D66 is concerned that officials may stop Muslims going to the US from Dutch soil.
The party has therefore asked Rutte to make it clear that the Netherlands will in no way become partly responsible for the travel ban.
The introduction of US customs officials at Schiphol for pre-clearance checks would cut down the long waits people have on their arrival at an American airport.
The White House issued a statement earlier this month saying Trump ‘looks forward to reaffirming the strong bonds of friendship between the United States and the Netherlands, which reach back over four hundred years.’
Last month Rutte described the way US president Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal as ‘bullish’ and criticised his ‘go it alone’ strategy.
Rutte went on to say that friendship with the US remains important, but that the assumption that friends listen to each other and take each other into account ‘would appear to have been shot through’
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