BRUSSELS -- President Trump is having a series of high-stakes meetings with European allies in Belgium. The president will meet with newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron after talking with other leaders at European Union headquarters.
America is often seen as the leader of the NATO military alliance which was originally founded to counter Russian power in Europe. Today Mr. Trump will urge them to focus more on counterterrorism.
Thousands demonstrated against Mr. Trump's arrival in Brussels, a city he once described as a "hellhole." Protesters unveiled an unwelcome message nearby the U.S. embassy, reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan.
Mr. Trump's criticism of key institutions – like the European Union, which he has argued should be dissolved – made for a highly-charged first encounter with its leaders.
He'll try for a fresh start at NATO, a military alliance that during the campaign he said could be broken up.
"It's obsolete and we're paying too much money," Mr. Trump said in April 2016 while campaigning in Wisconsin.
Since the election, he's had a change of heart.
"I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete," Mr. Trump said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday that the president still believes NATO members need to spend more on their own defense.
"I think you can expect the president to be very tough on them, saying 'Look, the U.S. is spending 4 percent. We're doing a lot,'" Tillerson said.
In the wake of the
"I repeat again that we must drive out the terrorists and the extremists from our midst. Obliterate this evil ideology," Mr. Trump said in Israel in response to the Manchester bombing.
The president is also requesting more NATO forces join the roughly 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Mr. Trump and his closest advisers are still debating the Pentagon's recommendation to expand the U.S. role and add 3,000 troops.