4% of GDP: Trump pushes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to double military spending

Lawrence Kim
July 12, 2018

Former secretary of state John Kerry blasted President Trump's criticism of Germany in a lengthy statement on Wednesday morning as "strange", "counterproductive", and "disgraceful".

Mr Trump said countries needed to "step up, not over a 10-year period, they have to step up immediately" adding that other United States presidents had raised the issue but "did not do anything about it".

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary-general, pictured here among alliance leaders, struck a diplomatic note about Mr Trump's outspoken calls for other countries to live up to their goal of spending 2 per cent of their economic output on defence.

In remarks later during the summit, however, President Trump increased pressure on allies over burden sharing, calling on allies to double defense spending targets to 4 percent, the White House confirmed.

Trump's surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a "captive" of Russian Federation because of its gas links and singling out Berlin for failing to pay its way. US Turkish relations have recently been strained because of issues ranging from Syria to Iran, but some diplomats say the two leaders - both criticised for their polarising politics - have established a bond.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters she's comfortable with the Trump-Putin summit, but that it "depends very much on outcomes".

He said the USA "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe" and demanded that members meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence, which "must ultimately go to 4%!"

"I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union", she said.

Trump has repeatedly slammed Merkel for supporting a new pipeline that would cement Berlin's client relationship with Russian Federation and increase Moscow's influence. He then set the tone for the day with a blistering attack on key ally Germany at a breakfast meeting with Nato's Stoltenberg.

Breaking from a carefully scripted session that was to focus on Ukraine and Georgia, one source said Trump "forcibly restated his position on wanting North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to reach 2 percent spending target to a short a deadline".

Following the summit sessions yesterday Mr Trump complained again that alliance members were not spending "nearly enough" on defence. I am very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor".

'That is why I welcome President Trump's forthcoming meeting with President Putin, open channels of communication between the USA and Russian Federation are key to managing the risks of confrontation'.

Mr Trump dominated the day and is set to stay in the spotlight as he visits the United Kingdom and prepares for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

"The president came out of Singapore saying he'd ended the nuclear threat from North Korea", said one USA official, referring to Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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