Canada part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation communique affirming defence spending target despite PM's remarks

Elias Hubbard
July 13, 2018

In the Brussels summit declaration published on Wednesday, nothing changed.

"Everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment".

When Donald Trump first spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin after becoming USA president, he reviled the "New Start" treaty - a pillar of arms control - as a bad deal for America.

Trump threw the summit into turmoil by demanding not only that allies reach their commitment to increase spending to 2 per cent of GDP "immediately" - instead of by 2024 as previously agreed - but also telling them to eventually double the figure to a punishing 4 per cent.

President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam November 11, 2017. EURACTIV broke the story.

Trudeau was not the only leader who seemed at odds with Trump's understanding of what emerged from an emergency meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders that derailed the final sessions of the summit's closing day and set off another firestorm of controversy with the US president at its centre.

"NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy security".

Earlier in the day, after Trump blasted Germany for buying Russian oil and natural gas, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg sought to convey an attitude of slow, steady progress for the alliance.

"I believe in NATO", Trump told a press conference after a fraught NATO summit in Brussels.

"President Trump never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO", Macron said.

Despite reports of tensions between Trump and some of the US's closest allies, the president insisted that relations between the leaders remain "very strong".

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, spends just 1.24%, compared with 3.5% for the US. On Wednesday he told leaders behind closed doors that he wants them to spend 4 percent of GDP on defense, but not even the United States meets that target.

More broadly, his performance, leavened at times by a more reassuring tone, left his fellow leaders struggling anew to judge whether he was posturing to win a better deal for the United States, moving to weaken institutions at the heart of the post-World War II order, or both. "We reaffirmed a credible budget strategy that meets our needs". But during his conference Trump said the Nord Stream project may be fine if "everybody" got along with Russian Federation.

The substance is the same military-grade toxin that almost killed a former Russian spy and his daughter in an earlier attack that Britain also blamed on Moscow.

"Everybody in the room thanked me", he said, "There's a great collegial spirit in that room that I don't think they've had in many years".

While there are published reports Trump aspired to be an arms control negotiator during the heyday of his real estate career, there is deep scepticism among former US officials he has mastered the subject's intricacies.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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