North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit: Trump urges members urged to double defence spending

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

The president has derided North Atlantic Treaty Organisation since the early stages of his election campaign in 2016, calling it "obsolete and disproportionately too expensive".

"He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 per cent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 per cent", Sarah Sanders told reporters.

The president made the remarks less a formal proposal, but while urging members to up their contributions and promote fair burden sharing across the organization. "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he said. The station is part of NATO's anti-missile shield for Europe.

Diplomats were already anxious about the summit ahead of time, not least because of an abrasive G7 meeting last month, when Mr Trump renounced a summit communique that had previously been jointly agreed. During the plenary session, he suddenly called on fellow alliance members to spend 4 percent of GDP on defense, rather than the agreed-upon 2 percent. It has the effect of further splintering the alliance-a major Putin goal-heading into Trump's meeting with the Russian president early next week.

Trump began his first and only full day in Belgium at a breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. The U.S.is paying for Europe's protection, then loses billions on Trade. "We're protecting everybody. this has been going on for decades", Trump said.

Under NATO rules, countries with territorial conflicts can not join the Western alliance and neither country is expected to progress in membership talks. Germany's leadership has said the pipeline is a private business decision and they have been reluctant to interfere. "On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!"

Trump has preferred to take aim at allies.

The conflicting messages from Trump, sent within the span of just one day, don't resemble anything close to normal diplomatic discourse from a USA president.

Alluding to Trump's comments about Germany, Kerry also said that "European energy security is an important topic for allies to discuss, even when they disagree". Chief of Staff John Kelly jerked his head away as US Ambassador to Nato Kay Bailey Hutchison looked up at the ceiling.

"Trump is anything but stupid", said an aide to a senior European Union official. "And it can't be explained, and you know that". Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom owns the majority stake in the project, with half of the financing coming from a group of energy corporations from France, Austria, England, and Germany. Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung headlined its story: "It is not only bad, it is catastrophic". They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of their oil and gas from Russian Federation.

The Nord Stream project, dominated by Gazprom, a Russian state-owned monopoly, is deeply divisive, disturbing and angering Poland, the Baltic States and other central and east European countries....

Trump's harsh words for Merkel, whose country has hosted tens of thousands of USA troops that have been key to post-WWII stability in Europe for seven decades, struck at the core of the alliance.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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