Saturday, 21 July, 2018

After Tense Summit, Trump Declares, 'I Believe in NATO'

EU Council President Tusk addresses a news conference during an EU leaders summit in Brussels John Kerry has a lot of thoughts on Donald Trump's combative NATO comments
Jeannette Daniel | 12 July, 2018, 16:10

What NATO partners dispute is Trump's repeated suggestion that the US gets little in return for its commitment to defend member countries if threatened.

After raising the threat of the US leaving NATO, Trump said on Thursday that there are no problems, adding that America's allies had pledged to increase defense spending commitments "very substantially".

"We call upon [North Korea] to fully implement its global obligations; to eliminate its nuclear, chemical, and biological warfare capabilities and ballistic missiles, and abandon all related programmes", the statement said.

Responding to reports that he had threatened to leave the alliance if no major increase in spending was visible, Trump said "that is unnecessary" because of all the commitments for more spending he saw around the table.

Trump scolded leaders here and criticized some countries, including Germany and Spain, for failing to contribute more to their defenses and for relying too heavily on the largesse of the United States.

"Dear America, appreciate your allies", Tusk said ahead of Trump's arrival Tuesday.

At a closed-door session Wednesday with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders, Trump called on member nations to increase their defense spending targets from 2 percent of each country's gross domestic product to 4 percent - a figure higher than what even the United States channels toward its military.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is insisting that Georgia will one day join the world's biggest security alliance, despite separatist ambitions in parts of the former Soviet republic. "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he added, saying he had raised his concerns about a new gas pipeline planned from Russian Federation to Germany.

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.

More news: Turkey swears in President Erdogan

Although administration officials point to the long-standing alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Mr. Trump's itinerary will largely keep him out of central London, where significant protests are expected.

President Donald Trump's displeasure with the U.S.'s military allies over their relatively low defense spending is no secret.

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.

Says Trump: "I think meeting with people is great".

Praising new initiatives to build capacity, NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg estimated that as much as 266 billion additional USA dollars would be spent by European allies and Canada on defense by 2024. Most NATO members are spending less than 2 percent, though more are moving in that direction.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday 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.

Trump has described the spending situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States".

"It will be over a relatively short period of years", Trump said.

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