Trump continues attacks on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations during 2nd day of summit

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 12, 2018

But with tensions in the Western alliance smouldering over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on U.S. taxpayers, his earlier remarks fuelled concerns among allies for the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II.

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.

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.

Trump appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply Berlin was funding a pipeline which German Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a commercial venture.

Still, three senior US officials told Reuters that no one in the Pentagon, including Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, knows what Trump might say in Helsinki.

"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".

"Everyone in the room thanked me", he said.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in "very direct language" but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO's resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.

The two-day North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit will continue in Brussels on Thursday, with meetings between allies and the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine. Trump said he had a "very, very good relationship" with Merkel, who described the two as "good partners". "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he said. "And I am very happy that we are today unified in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany", she said in an arrival statement at the NATO Summit Wednesday, according to an English translation of her remarks.

Instead, a series of events - a black-tie dinner with business leaders, a meeting with May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth - will happen outside the bustling city, where Mayor Sadiq Khan has been in a verbal battle with Trump.

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

The meeting brought together Mr Trump and Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau, who irritated the U.S. president at the G7 by declaring that his country would not be pushed around. So, in a stroke, he shifted attention away from his own ties to the Kremlin just days before he meets one-on-one with Putin.

"The president came out of Singapore saying he'd ended the nuclear threat from North Korea", said one USA official, referring to Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

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