President Trump “is well aware” of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plea for him to stay out of the upcoming U.K. election when he visits London next week for a NATO summit, a U.S. official said Friday.
“He’s well aware of this. … He also likes Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally, but he’s absolutely cognizant of not wading into other countries [elections],” the senior administration official told reporters on a call.
The administration has not announced any meeting with Johnson himself during the NATO summit, but the official said that the White House is “continuing to develop” its list of meetings with foreign leaders and would provide updates when available.
Asked whether the lack of a meeting with the prime minister was tied to Johnson’s request for Trump to stay away from U.K. politics, the official added, “that’s something we’re still working on.”
Johnson earlier on Friday said “allies and friends” should not “get involved in each other’s election campaigns” as the U.K. prepares for its general election on Dec. 12.
“The best (thing) when you have close friends and allies like the U.S. and the U.K. is for neither side to get involved in each other’s election,” he told LBC radio, according to Reuters.
British politicians accused Trump of trying to interfere in the U.K.’s upcoming election when he said in October that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would be “so bad” for the U.K.
Trump plans to attend the NATO leaders meeting in the United Kingdom next week, between Dec. 2-4.
He is set to attend a working breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, hold a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and attend a NATO leaders’ reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II.
In addition, Trump will hold bilateral meetings with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the prime ministers of Denmark and Italy. He’s also slated to meet with representatives from Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria and the U.K. – though not with Johnson himself.
While in London, Trump is expected to discuss “continuing challenges that NATO needs to face,” including defense spending, cybersecurity, space, China and Russia.
The president “has been committed to making NATO stronger, which is why he places such an emphasis on encouraging all allies to live up to their commitments to increase defense spending,” the official said.
The Trump administration earlier this week announced it would cut U.S. aid to NATO from 22 percent to approximately 16 percent of the organization’s budget. The new formula was reportedly agreed to by ally countries.
NATO’s current civilian budget of about $2.5 billion is used primarily to fund the NATO headquarters and is separate from the 2 percent of gross domestic product that NATO members agreed to spend on their defense budgets in 2014.
The United States and eight other NATO countries are expected to meet or exceed the 2 percent target by the end of the year, including Bulgaria, the U.K., Greece, Romania, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. All members have pledged to dedicate the money by 2024.