Published: Fri, July 13, 2018

Donald Trump's demand sparks North Atlantic Treaty Organisation panic

Donald Trump's demand sparks North Atlantic Treaty Organisation panic

As a contentious North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Brussels began to wind down on Thursday, President Donald Trump claimed victory over defense spending and reaffirmed US commitment to the alliance.

At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the U.S. on trade and needed to immediately boost spending. I think that in this context this is the most urgent: we need to ensure that transit through Ukraine continues, vice-president of the EC said.

"The problem is Trump seems to really see no benefit that allies provide the United States", says James Goldgeier, visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The White House has been pushing a "Buy American" initiative which aims to help drum up billions of dollars more in arms business.

Trump declared that a joint natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive to Russian Federation".

But, several sources said, Trump instead reopened in strong terms his demand that other countries greatly speed up their progress toward a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation target of spending at least two percent of their GDP on defence, which now has a deadline of 2024 with get-out terms available that can stretch it to 2030.

Other US companies that stand to benefit from the US arms sales push include missiles maker Raytheon Co and General Dynamics Corp, which builds warships and other military equipment.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, spends just 1.24 per cent, compared with 3.5 per cent for the US.


He also renewed a demand that they even double that - though many question what they could usefully spend it on.

Trump leaves Brussels on Thursday for some extra time with one key member of the alliance: British Prime Minister Theresa May.

"The Russians might be saying: 'Oh, gee, we wish Trump had not been the victor in that election.' We've been extremely tough on Russia", he said, in a nod to allegations that Putin helped him to win the 2016 United States vote.

But since coming to power a year ago, Trump has sought to improve relations with Putin amid tensions between Moscow and the West. "And yet, he came into the news conference and declared victory", Bays said. "I don't know that is what they voted for". He's been very, very nice to me and very supportive.

"As we engage Russian Federation we must do so from a position of unity and strength - holding out hope for a better future, but also clear and unwavering on where Russian Federation needs to change its behaviour for this to become a reality", she said.

Woody Johnson, the USA ambassador to the United Kingdom, dismissed the significance of the protests, telling Fox News that one of the reasons the two countries are so close "is because we have the freedoms that we've all fought for". Trump criticized her strategy on cutting ties to the European Union, cast doubt on whether he was willing to negotiate a new trade deal between Britain and the United States and praised May's political rival Boris Johnson.

Hours later, he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met privately and discussed the pipeline, each reaffirming the partnership between the US and Germany.

Trump said he wanted "peace all over the world, that's my goal", and he wanted to achieve this by building up the military, with his dream to have the best military equipment in the world and never have to use it. And one of the freedoms we have is freedom of speech and the freedom to express your views.

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