Published: Thu, July 12, 2018

NATO Summit overshadowed by tensions between allies

NATO Summit overshadowed by tensions between allies

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday NATO countries must immediately pay 2 percent of their country's economic output for defense, tying the issue to trade and energy in a Twitter post as he attended the alliance's summit in Brussels.

While President Trump is in Brussels attacking NATO members for not spending enough on defense and calling Germany "a captive" of Russia for its support of a new pipeline to deliver Russian gas, lawmakers in Washington are standing up for the 69-year-old trans-Atlantic alliance. Trump wrote. "The U.S.is paying for Europe's protection, then loses billions on Trade".

In a series of tweets from Brussels, Trump said "Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from 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.

During the president's remarks, he suggested countries not only meet their minimum commitment of 2 percent but increase it to 4 percent, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary said in a statement.

The Brussels meeting comes less than a week before Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among U.S. allies over his proximity to the Russian president. "That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany".

Other leaders have also been trickling in, and continue to arrive after Trump.

"President Trump's brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment. So I think that's inappropriate also", Trump claimed.


NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump talk during a family photo ahead of the opening ceremony of the NATO summit, at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, on July 11, 2018.

"We are investing heavily in the German armed forces and other European countries too, because the armed forces need it".

Trump told reporters during brief remarks at the end of the meeting that the two had a "very, very good relationship" and congratulated Merkel on her "tremendous success".

He described the current situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States".

He added: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS".

NATO leaders declared their "unwavering commitment" to agreed defence spending targets at a summit on Wednesday and stressed concerns over threats posed by Russia, Iran and North Korea.

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.

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