Tuesday, 18 September, 2018

Trump sets off for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in combative mood on military spending

Trump brands Germany a “captive of Russia,” days before he meets Putin Nato summit: Trump urges members urged to double defence spending
Jeannette Daniel | 12 July, 2018, 11:41

While the United States and Europe have historically been close military and economic allies, President Donald Trump has upended that order by repeatedly taking Europe to task over defense spending and trade while pursuing a closer U.S. relationship with adversary Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Because of me they've raised about $40 billion over the previous year".

He has taken issue with how only five other nations make the current contribution of two per cent of their GDP.

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

That would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe where Germany and many others have pledged only to reach 2 percent by 2024 or later, the report noted.

Trump - whose presidential campaign in under investigation for possible collusion with Russian Federation during the 2016 election - is set to meet with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

The President said: "We are supposed to be guarding against Russian Federation and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation. Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?"

The U.S. president has been the source of concern for many European allies, in and out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, with European Council President Donald Tusk warning Trump Tuesday to "appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many", and reminding that "America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe".

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 Trump.

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From left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, US President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend the opening ceremony of the Nato summit in Brussels.

Asked about Mr Trump's suggestion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he would focus on what has been agreed to.

Singling out Germany isn't necessarily fair, said defense analyst Sophia Besch of the Center for European Reform. Not fair to the US taxpayer.

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

Trump also criticized Germany for its use of Russian gas.

A U.S. conservative political commentator suggested that perhaps Trump was looking in the direction of the United States, while his counterparts were looking at Europe.

"We're protecting everybody, and yet we're paying a lot of money to protect", Trump said.

Throughout the day, leaders were peppered with questions about Trump's behavior and whether or not they agreed with his position on Germany.

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