Trump ups North Atlantic Treaty Organisation contribution target as allies lag on defense spending

Elias Hubbard
July 12, 2018

President Trump attends a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels, Belgium, ahead of a NATO Summit on July 11.

"Everybody's talking about it all over the world, they're saying we're paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation".

However, his comment that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline" appeared to misstate German energy use - about 20 percent of which is accounted for by oil and gas imports from Russia. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russian Federation where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russian Federation.

Mr Trump's main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defence budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defence by 2024.

According to a French official, Trump said it would be a good thing if everyone spent around 4 percent on defense, which was presumed to be a generous rounding up of the US budget of some 3.57 percent of GDP.

Schumer's warning comes a day after Trump said his easiest meeting on his foreign trip to Europe over the next week could be his sit-down with Putin.

"Germany is just paying a little over 1 percent" of its GDP annually to the alliance's budget, Trump griped.

The meeting with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leader is the lone formal one-on-one session the White House planned for the president at the summit, meaning he will have to bring up his complaints about Germany with its chancellor, Angela Merkel, on the sidelines of the leaders' meetings.

Not all are on track to meet the 2 percent pledge, and Germany is particularly remiss, though it has beefed up spending by billions of dollars. The United States pays about 67 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, more than any other nation, although only 3.5 percent is NATO-related.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the Chancellor", Trump said. "And I am very happy that today we are united in freedom", Merkel said.

President Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, left, gesture during a heated bilateral breakfast on Wednesday in Brussels. 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.

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".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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