What’s at stake with President Trump’s visit to Europe this week

President Trump’s first tour of Europe didn’t end so well.

Now he has a second chance — but the tensions are already high.

When Trump touches down for his four-day trip this week, he will bring with him even more international intrigue than he carried in his May visit, which concluded with him clashing with other world leaders at the NATO and G7 summits.

This time, he’ll have a second round with some of the same leaders — and a first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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What’s there to worry about?


President Trump in May on the sidelines of the NATO summit, during his first European tour.


Strained alliances

The leaders of America’s allied nations seemed shaken after Trump’s visit in May, where he was often the only one to clash with their consensus on diplomatic issues.

Since then, Trump has kept fueling his feuds with several leaders, showing no sign that he’s ready to make nice.

He and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will host the G20 Summit in Hamburg, have been trading subtle insults about each other on Twitter and in speeches. United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May had to stand by as Trump waged a Twitter war on the mayor of London for his handling of a terror attack.

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And Trump keeps forging ahead with his claims that he will build a Mexican border wall and make Mexico pay for it — something the country’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, has opposed from day one.

Trump will be meeting with all of those leaders at G20, leaving the world to wonder what kind of sparks will fly this time.

President Trump with other world leaders at the G7 Summit in May.

President Trump with other world leaders at the G7 Summit in May.


The Paris climate accord

Trump ended his last European tour on a sour note, largely due to his refusal to endorse the Paris climate accord, which all of the other G7 leaders strongly supported.

Weeks later, he pulled the United States out of the pact — a move that drew stern rebukes from officials worldwide.

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Some of the Paris deal’s most vocal supporters, such as Chinese President Xi Jinping and French President Emmanuel Macron, will be at the G20 Summit, and officials have already said climate change will be one of the event’s major talking points.

That means the summit is likely to be an awkward — and possibly contentious — standoff between Trump and nearly every other leader there.


Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with Trump on Friday.

(Sergei Ilnitsky/AP)

Trump and Putin

This will likely be the main event of Trump’s time in Europe: His first presidential meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The White House confirmed Tuesday that the two will talk on the sidelines of G20.

U.S. and Russian officials have said the two leaders, who have shared a baffling public affection for each other, will mostly discuss conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

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It is unclear, though, if the two will talk about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, or the investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties, or classified U.S. intelligence, or any of the Russia scandals that have been running through Trump’s presidency.

It seems like Trump is set up for a lose-lose face-off with Putin. Either he confronts Putin about Russia’s election meddling, likely spiking tensions between the two nations — or he keeps quiet, raising even more suspicions about their buddy-buddy bond.

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