Donald Trump on Sunday described the European Union as top of his list of global foes while downplaying expectations of his summit with Vladimir Putin, which takes place in Helsinki on Monday.
During an interview with US TV network NBC, filmed at his Turnberry golf course in Scotland at the end of his UK visit, the US leader was asked to identify his "biggest competitor, his biggest foe".
To the surprise of many, he listed the EU ahead of both Russia and China.
Mr Trump said: "Well, I think we have a lot of foes. I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us on trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union but they’re a foe.
"I respect the leaders of those countries but in a trade sense, they’ve really taken advantage of us. And many of those countries are in NATO and they weren’t paying their bills."
His comments came hours before he was due to leave the UK for Helsinki for his one-to-one with Mr Putin. Mr Trump said Russia was also a foe "in many respects" and also called China an "economic foe".
At the Finnish Presidential Palace, which will host Mr Trump and Mr Putin, last minute preparations were underway as at least 2,000 protesters gathered outside.
Yet as the clock ticked down, it was still unclear what would be on the agenda for discussion between the pair.
Mr Trump said he was going into the meeting with "low expectations" but insisted "nothing bad" would come of it.
He remained vague about his goals but did say he may ask about the extradition of 12 Russian spies indicted by the US Attorney General’s office on Friday for hacking into the Democratic National Committee.
"I go in with low expectations. I’m not going with high expectations. I think that getting along with Russia is a good thing but it’s possible we won’t."
When questioned about his objectives, he said: "I’ll let you know after the meeting."
And when asked if he would seek extradition of the Russians suspects, he remained equivocal.
"Well, I might," he said."I hadn’t thought of that. But I certainly, I’ll be asking about it."
Meanwhile John Bolton, his National Security Adviser, said yesterday (Sunday) that subject areas up for discussion remained fluid.
"We have asked, and the Russians have agreed, that it will be basically unstructured. We are not looking for concrete deliverables," he told US media on Sunday.
He later added it was "hard to believe" that Mr Putin did not know about his regime’s meddling in the 2016 US election but said extradition was unlikely as there is no treaty between the two countries and that it would be "silly" of the president for ask for something he couldn’t get.
In a string of tweets before boarding Air Force One, Mr Trump said: "Heading to Helsinki, Finland – looking forward to meeting with President Putin tomorrow.
"Unfortunately, no matter how well I do at the Summit, if I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia over the years, I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough — that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!”
"Much of our news media is indeed the enemy of the people and all the Dems know how to do is resist and obstruct! This is why there is such hatred and dissension in our country – but at some point, it will heal!"