Sunday, 16 December, 2018

What Trump's tough-guy act at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was really about

Angela Merkel and Donald Trump pose for a family NATO opening ceremony Credit Ludovic Marin Pool via AP
Priscilla Morrison | 13 July, 2018, 16:15

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".

While Trump said on Thursday that he expects the Helsinki summit to be "just a loose meeting", some at home are hoping it will be a "non-event" with nothing groundbreaking.

President Donald J. Trump speaks during a press conference on the second day of the NATO Summit in Brussels, July 12, 2018. As representatives from the alliance's 29 member states return to their respective countries - or, in the case of U.S. president Donald Trump, travel on to meet his Russian and British counterparts - the participants will all be trying to make sense of what happened.

"The American president demanded what has been discussed for months, that there is a change in the burden sharing".

Demonstrators protest next to the specially erected fence surrounding the US ambassador's residence, Winfield House, where President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump are staying in London on July 12.

"NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy security".

Since then eight of the 29 allies have managed to achieve the 2 per cent level, and a majority have budget plans to reach it by 2024.

Germany spends 1.2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, while the USA spends 3.5 percent. Why?

"Germany just started paying Russian Federation, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russian Federation".

First on Trump's agenda was a breakfast with the NATO Secretary General and before the food even came out, Trump was ranting about how the US funds the protection of all the other NATO countries.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

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"I have to tell you that the atmosphere last night at dinner was very open, was very constructive and it was very positive", Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, the president of Croatia, told reporters. Donald Trump and the whole world leader gang got together to reaffirm their commitment to global defense and cooperation this week and it did not go at all as planned.

He insisted it had been a "very good" summit because of the frank and open discussion it had hosted.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor". But we'll obviously be talking about other things'. Trump says Germany is "totally controlled" by Russian Federation.

French President Emmanuel Macron denied North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members had agreed to push their defense spending beyond the previously agreed-upon two percent of GDP.

Politico said Trump warned of "grave consequences" if the allies did not immediately meet the 2 per cent spending targets.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency session of all 29 allies to address Trump's demands, and the U.S. leader said his hectoring had paid off. He also said the other leaders had thanked him for raising the issue of how to support NATO's operations.

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 is all", Macron said.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Moscow interfered and Trump has said he would discuss it, although he has stated both a willingness to believe Putin's denials and USA agencies.

In an apparent swipe at Trump, he added: "Sometimes the corridors, comments and tweets take on more importance than what is negotiated, said or endorsed by heads of state".

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