Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Economy | By

NATO's 2% of GDP spending goal paints partial picture

NATO's 2% of GDP spending goal paints partial picture

United States President Donald Trump says he has gained concessions from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to increase their defence spending, while reaffirming a "very strong" commitment to the military alliance at a summit in Brussels.

"We made a tremendous amount of progress today since past year", Trump said during a surprise news conference Thursday.

Before leaving on Thursday for a visit to the United Kingdom, Trump called USA commitment to the alliance "very strong", and referred to the two-day summit as "fantastic" characterized by "a great collegial spirit".

Still, by the time it was over he was ebullient, saying that European allies and Canada had "really stepped up their commitment" - and intimating that his relentless hectoring had forced other allies to spend more than NATO's long-term goal of 2 percent of GDP on defense.

"NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago", President Trump said.

Before arriving a half hour late to the final day of meetings on Thursday, Trump tweeted that "the US pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe", that Germany's oil and gas pipeline with Russian Federation is "not acceptable", and that allies must not only all reach the 2 percent defense spending guideline, but double that to 4 percent. But he reiterated his demand that US allies spend more on defense.

"Without doubt these days, modern law gives more importance to the background noise than the music that was played", Macron said as the summit wound down. "They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before", Trump said.

Before he visits with Putin, Trump will visit London and the United Kingdom - where many large protests are planned against his policies.

FORDHAM: Right. Well, you know, actually before the summit even started, David, the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, thanked Trump for his leadership in encouraging countries to set up their defense spending and succeeding in doing so. "I'm very strong on immigration".

Stoltenberg, stepping in - not for the first time - as peacemaker between Trump and the other 28, called a special closed-door session, the first in a decade, with most officials and the invited guests ushered out, to allow the alliance's principal leaders to remonstrate with Trump. The leaders also signed off on a much-expanded military training mission in Iraq, and vowed to keep funding the Afghan military - to the tune of around $1 billion a year - until 2024.

He added: 'I think it changed the fabric of Europe and, unless you act very quickly, it's never going to be what it was and I don't mean that in a positive way.

Trump said he made his anger clear to allies on Wednesday.

The president has been highly critical of the alliance, complaining the USA pays more than others.

Trump also singled out Germany and its chancellor Angela Merkel for criticism, a day after saying Berlin had become a "captive of Russia" because of a gas pipeline deal and should be paying more for defense.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday also turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation. Greece, for example, exceeds the 2 percent spending goal but fails on the equipment measure.

The emergency session came amid reports that Trump had threatened to leave the pact if allies didn't immediately up their spending, but officials said no explicit threat was made. That's "70 to 90 percent to protect Europe", said President Trump.

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