Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members have agreed to spending increases

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

It was not clear whether Trump was threatening a USA withdrawal from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but some diplomats perceived his comments that way.

The president again described Putin as a competitor, declining to characterize the longtime US adversary as an enemy even as he said he hopes one day they might even be friends.

"Everyone in the room thanked me", he said.

"I have to say, I think it's very sad when Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia where we're supposed to be guarding against Russia, " Trump said, referring to the planned Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Stoltenberg estimated European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to their military spending by 2024 and said, "this is really adding some extra momentum", apparently meaning Trump's pressure.

Trump wants the spending to go up to 4% of GDP, which is more than even the US now spends on defense.

Trump next heads to the United Kingdom for a working visit and then to Finland for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Trump's statement marked an escalation of a US campaign to talk down Russian gas supplies to Europe in an attempt to push the USA energy sector instead.

The good news for those anxious about the USA commitment to NATO under President Trump is that Trump declared, "I believe in NATO" Thursday during a summit-ending press conference, reports the New York Times.

USA officials have told Reuters that Washington is preparing another review of strategy, a year after Trump begrudgingly agreed to extend involvement in the 17-year-old war.

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russian Federation and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation".

Tusk also urged European NATO members to spend more on defense, but noted: "Money is important but generating solidarity is more important". Also present was France's President Emmanuel Macron, who tried this year to charm Mr Trump into more harmonious transatlantic relationship, only to see the USA president withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and impose tariffs on European goods.

EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to "appreciate your allies" and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

Instead, a series of events - a black-tie dinner with business leaders, a meeting with May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II - will happen outside the bustling city, where Mayor Sadiq Khan has been in a verbal battle with Mr. Trump. According to Stoltenberg, eight countries would meet the 2 percent target this year and a "majority" put forward plans to do so by 2020 - compared to only three countries who were meeting the commitment in 2014.

Trump had opened the first day of talks in Brussels on Wednesday with a public diatribe against Germany, the second biggest state in the Western defence alliance, before the mood appeared to have calmed as the summit went into its second day, focusing on operations beyond Europe.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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