President Donald Trump held his first joint press conference with a foreign leader Friday when he and British prime minister Theresa May (remember the “h”!) took questions for just under 20 minutes in the White House East Room.
Both May and Trump began by praising the “special relationship” between the U.S. and U.K. May emphasized the importance of a trade deal between the two countries, given plans for the U.K. to leave the European Union. Trump, meanwhile, praised the British people for voting to leave the E.U., calling it a “wonderful thing,” and patted himself on the back for predicting Brexit, while squeezing in a plug for his golf course in Scotland.
Despite the presser’s short running time, Trump made several other headlines on NATO, Russia, and Mexico.
Regarding NATO, Trump appeared to step back from his position that it is “obsolete.” While he didn’t say so himself, Trump did tell May that he is “100 percent behind NATO.” Or so she says.
Trump also touched on his scheduled call with Russian president Vladimir Putin. He repeated his position that it would be ideal for the U.S. to have a positive working relationship with Russia, but said he doesn’t know if that will happen. He added that it is “very early to be talking about” lifting sanctions on Russia, seemingly leaving the door open to do just that.
May was more forceful in her comments on Russia. “As far as the U.K. is concerned on sanctions on Russia in relation to their activities in Ukraine, we have been very clear that we want to see the Minsk Agreement fully implemented,” she said, referencing the plan to bring long-term peace to Eastern Ukraine.
Trump was also asked about an hour-long phone call he had Friday morning with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto. Thursday, Nieto cancelled a planned trip to the U.S. to meet with Trump. Despite their public spat over Trump’s border wall, the two leaders had a “very, very friendly call,” Trump said.
Though he declared his “love” for the Mexican people, Trump said, “The United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies, and millions and millions of people losing their jobs.”
“So we are going to renegotiate our trade deals. And we’re going to renegotiate other aspects of our relationship with Mexico,” he added.
What Trump did not mention was an agreement reached with Nieto to not “speak publicly about this controversial issue [the wall] for now.” News of that agreement comes in a release from Nieto’s office. The countdown to when Trump violates that agreement, probably on Twitter, begins now.