US & Canada

US Election 2016: Donald Trump names foreign policy advisers

Donald Trump Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mr Trump met journalists, Republican party leaders and Jewish activists while in Washington

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has revealed the first members of his foreign policy team.

The advisers include academics and former military officers with expertise on the Middle East and energy issues.

Mr Trump told the Washington Post that he would name more advisers in the coming days.

Several of his advisers have served as experts for other Republican presidential candidates such as Mitt Romney and Ben Carson.

On Monday, Mr Trump named retired Lt Gen Keith Kellogg, Carter Page, George Papadopoulos, Walid Phares and retired Gen Joseph Schmitz.

The team is led by Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who has helped shape Mr Trump's policies, most notably on immigration.

Mr Trump has come under criticism in recent days over his policy credentials. When cable news network MSNBC asked him who was advising him on policy, Mr Trump named himself.

Analysis: Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Senator Sessions (left) is the chairman of Mr Trump's foreign policy team

Donald Trump recently boasted he was his own top adviser on foreign policy matters, noting that he had a "good instinct for this stuff".

After more than a month of hints and promises, however, the Republican presidential front-runner has announced who else has his ear on international affairs.

The names are hardly a who's who in the Republican foreign policy firmament - which could be good or bad news depending on one's perspective.

Mr Trump's positions on trade deals and military intervention put him decidedly outside the Republican Party establishment, and this list of advisers will do little to change that perception.

If Republicans hoped they could bend Mr Trump to party orthodoxy, this may be their latest Trump-related miscalculation.

Unorthodox foreign policy goals

While some of his team are not well known in Republican academic circles, others are seen as controversial figures.

Gen Joseph Schmitz resigned from the military in 2005 amid accusations of misconduct. However, Mr Schmitz was never charged with wrongdoing.

Another adviser, Walid Phares, was criticised when he was named as part of Mr Romney's foreign policy team in 2011.

Muslim advocacy groups took issue with Mr Phares's close ties to right-wing Christian militia groups during the Lebanese civil war.

He is an outspoken critic of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, and has appeared on Fox News and other conservative media outlets as an expert on the Middle East.

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George Papadopoulos recently served as an adviser to Mr Carson, who dropped out of the race in February. Mr Papadopoulos has worked as a consultant for energy companies in the Middle East.

Also on Monday, Mr Trump told the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue that he believes the UK may leave the European Union when a referendum is held in June.

"I think they may leave it based on everything," Mr Trump said. "I have a lot of investments in the UK, and I will tell you I think they may leave based on everything I'm hearing."

He also said the US should spend less money on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato).

"We are paying disproportionately," he told CNN. "It's too much and frankly it's a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea."

More on the advisers:

Retired Lt Gen Keith Kellogg

  • Served under Coalition Provisional Authority leader Paul Bremer during the Iraq war
  • Vice-president at defence contractor CACI International

Carter Page

  • Long time energy industry executive
  • Expert on the Caspian Sea region and economic development in former Soviet states

George Papadopoulos

  • Director of the London-based Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security
  • Research fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank

Walid Phares

  • Professor at National Defense University
  • Adviser to members of Congress

Retired Gen Joseph Schmitz

  • Former inspector general at the Defense Department
  • Former executive at defence contractor Blackwater