Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Trump calls for allies to spend more on defense at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Trump calls for allies to spend more on defense at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

He made the comments in a tense exchange with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation secretary general Jens Stoltenberg in front of TV cameras over a set piece breakfast that was meant to be a show of unity following Trump's eve-of-summit twitter protest over USA spending on the alliance.

"I think two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that we are stronger together than apart", Stoltenberg told Trump.

Aside from putting the share of Russian energy at 70 percent of Germany's consumption when it is in fact about 20 percent, Trump appeared to suggest the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was a public project while Merkel insists it is a private commercial venture.

"I look forward to having words with President Trump, having a conversation with him, as I always do", the prime minister told reporters before he left Latvia following a whirlwind visit to the Baltic State, where Canada has 455 troops deployed as part of NATO's Operation Reassurance.

President Trump has often praised Vladimir Putin's leadership since the U.S. President was elected in 2016.

Trump's weeklong trip to Europe will continue with a stop in Scotland before ending with a sit-down in Helsinki with Putin. She said Germany could make "independent decisions".

The dramatic exchange set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance. "Wow!" And in multiple tweets, he reiterated a familiar theme, complaining that the USA is shouldering an unfair share of defense costs overseas: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS", he tweeted.

"It's certainly going to be an interesting time with NATO", Trump said Tuesday morning as he headed to Brussels. "And, dear Europe, spend more on your defense, because everyone respects an ally that is well-prepared and equipped".

"So we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries and then numerous of these countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia", Trump said.

That's not how the spending works.

Many US presidents have urged European governments to spend more on their militaries. He also called Brussels a "hell hole" and "a mess".

The defense minister agreed with Trump about defense spending. The pipeline has been a source of contention for over a year, pitting the USA and a small number of Eastern European countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others, on one side, against Russian Federation and major EU members, led by Germany, on the other.

Trump interjected, asking Stoltenberg why he thought that had happened.

Trump, interjecting, asked why that was - and Stoltenberg responded it was "because of your leadership and your message".

"So, we're going to have a meeting on that and the secretary general has worked very hard on that, he understands the problem and hopefully we can get it resolved. He may be the only one, but that's OK with me".

Trudeau was sideswiped last month by Trump's anti-establishment behaviour when the president trashed him on Twitter hours after the G7 summit in Quebec, calling him "very dishonest and weak".

Trump was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron later on Wednesday.

But European Council President Donald Tusk was more direct in anticipating that Trump may have designs on sowing discord, delivering a stinging warning to the visiting Americans president.

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