Trump rattles North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, knocking its value and assailing Germany

Geraldine Edwards
July 14, 2018

It was a classic Trump performance - bluster, confrontation and demands followed by a unilateral declaration of victory - but his claim was quickly dismissed by the leaders of Italy and France, who disputed they had made any new pledges for increasing spending.

But there were no immediate specifics on what Trump said he had achieved, and French President Emmanuel Macron quickly disputed Trump's claim that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have agreed to boost defence spending beyond 2 per cent of gross domestic product.

Remember when French President Emmanuel Macron visited the USA and got all chummy with the president? "There is a communique that was published yesterday".

Just eight countries are forecast to reach the two per cent goal this year, and 15 by 2024.

Trump also reiterated his criticisms of Germany, which he said earlier this week was "totally controlled by Russia" because of a deal for a natural gas pipeline.

Macron said he had just agreed a 2019 budget with parliament so changing it was unrealistic - a point Trump later said he had accepted though he still expected all members to hit the 2 percent target in the next years, and then possibly double that.

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Trump claimed member nations had agreed to significantly boost their defence budgets and reaffirmed - after days of griping that the U.S. was being taken advantage of by its allies - that the United States remains faithful to the accord.

The issue dominated the president's public remarks after he arrived in Brussels on Tuesday, striking fear among European officials that the president would question the US' role in the alliance.

"I'm very consistent. I'm a very stable genius", he said. Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment.

"I guess when they put out blimps to make me feel unwelcome, no reason for me to go to London", he told The Sun, which is owned by his media ally Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox News in the United States.

Describing the dynamics of the talks, he said, "I was using the term a lot today: burden-sharing".

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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I think it would be salutary for the alliance. 'Otherwise, we're going to buy them from somebody else, ' Trump said. Stoltenberg said: "We had a very frank and open discussion". "I brought it up, no one brought it up but me".

That emphasis on solidarity will be key heading into Monday's meeting between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "That's all." In the end, leaders left with an awkward consensus, after hours in which Trump had been so aggressive in his approach with allies that reports made the rounds that he might pull the US out. "They are going to up it at levels they have never thought of before".

The mood was already prickly ahead of the summit, prompting a terse exhortation from the European Union's President Donald Tusk for Trump to "appreciate" his allies and reminding him that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

German Chancellor Merkel hit back immediately, not only denying Trump's contention but suggesting that his comfortable upbringing in the US gave him no standing to spout off on the world stage about Germany.

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump said in the presence of reporters.

"I let them know that I was extremely unhappy", he said to reporters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada hadn't committed to spending new money on defence at this week's meeting in Belgium, but pointed to his government's plan to increase the defence budget by 70 per cent over the next decade to $32.7 billion.

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