Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries should ´reimburse´ United States for defense costs

Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries should ´reimburse´ United States for defense costs

U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. First Lady Melania Trump attend the evening reception and dinner at the 2018 NATO Summit.

Trump has set a bombastic tone for the talks, unleashing a barrage of criticism against European allies, including a clash with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and was glad a united Germany was now able to "make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions".

"We're having a great meeting. All I can do is say it". US Turkish relations have recently been strained because of issues ranging from Syria to Iran, but some diplomats say the two leaders - both criticised for their polarising politics - have established a bond.

"Many countries are not paying what they should", Trump said, seated across from a visibly rattled Stoltenberg.

Despite his continued criticism of the transAtlantic pact, Trump on Wednesday signed the 23-page North Atlantic Treaty Organisation declaration, along with his 28 other allies, which reaffirmed the two percent goal to be reached by 2014.

On day two, leaders will welcome non-NATO partners including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko to the alliance's new glass-and-steel headquarters as they seek to focus on policy rather than politics.

"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", Trump said.

Following the summit in Brussels, Trump is set to spend three days in the United Kingdom before travelling to Helsinki for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump's biggest target for criticism, Germany, predicts that it will be spending 1.5 per cent of GDP on its military budget by 2024.

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 USA taxpayers, funding a defence budget worth about 3.6 percent of their national income, foot much of NATO's bills. East Europeans fear the deal could leave them vulnerable - but it also redirects pressure on Trump, who is under fire for his own Russian Federation issues and whose administration is facing off against special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation probe. White House officials announced that Mr. Trump would give an unscheduled news conference on Thursday in Brussels amid the tumult over his demands for increased spending.

He also said that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki next week would be the "easiest" of the meetings he'll have while he's overseas. We are going to have to do something.

Trump's next stop will be London, where he'll be meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Trump and Merkel later held businesslike talks on the sidelines of the summit.

It was the most recent in a series of demands and insults that critics fear will undermine the decades-old alliance, coming days before Trump sits down with Putin at the conclusion of his closely watched European trip.

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