Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have agreed to increase defence spending

Clay Curtis
July 12, 2018

Speaking at a media conference after the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump said his commitment to the decades-old military alliance "remains very strong", adding allies had made unprecedented commitments to increase spending "beyond two per cent".

As well as Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, were also singled out by Trump for undershooting on their spending targets when US taxpayers, funding a defence budget worth about 3.6 percent of their national income, foot much of NATO's bills.

Mr Trump's early-morning tweets from Brussels had been typically critical.

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. In 2017, Germany got more than one-third of its energy for electricity from coal and almost 12 percent from nuclear plants.

"I think we should first get to 2 percent, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that", NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg told reporters, without speaking directly to Trump's comments.

"Commitments were made", he added.

Many NATO members were already working to increase their defence spending in recent years.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and was glad a united Germany was now able to "make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions".

US President Donald Trump accused Germany on Wednesday of being a "captive" of Russian Federation due to its energy reliance and its support for the plan to double capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing traditional routes through Ukraine.

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Mr Trump also spent time with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has recently been reelected and gained new powers as his country's executive president.

US officials told Reuters that the White House is preparing another review of strategy in Afghanistan, just a year after Trump hesitantly extended the involvement in America's longest war.

Trump acknowledged that some of NATO's poorer members might have trouble meeting the figure, but said the USA could "help them out a little bit" with finance, adding that the United States made "by far the best" military equipment.

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.

One of the chief reasons that most European nations enjoy a higher standard of living and their residents annually express larger levels of collective happiness than people living in the United States is because of their commitment to spending on social wellness that exceeds their relative spending on military misadventure, weapons, and global empire.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels ahead of the two-day summit, Trump complained that Russian Federation enjoyed undue influence over Germany thanks to "inappropriate" oil and gas deals. And he called alliance members "delinquent" on their contributions to NATO's budget.

Trump has been more conciliatory behind the scenes, including at a leaders' dinner Wednesday.

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.

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