Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

After Trump's Tirades About NATO Spending, Attention Shifts To Afghanistan

After Trump's Tirades About NATO Spending, Attention Shifts To Afghanistan

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen told NPR on Wednesday that Trump makes a fair point that Germany should spend more but is not the first US president to urge that.

"NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago", Trump told reporters, describing an unscheduled crisis meeting of the 29 alliance leaders on Thursday morning as "fantastic" and having "a great collegial spirit".

Instead, he said, the other 28 allies had agreed to increase their defence spending more quickly to meet a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation target of two percent of their national income within a few years.

Later Mr Trump and German chancellor Angela Merkel had a face-to-face meeting, where the row continued.

"I've experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I'm very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that's very good". But at the bilateral meeting he exulted: "We have a very, very good relationship with the Chancellor". So I think the secretary-general likes Trump.

Trump scolded leaders here and criticized some countries, including Germany and Spain, for failing to contribute more to their defenses and for relying too heavily on the largesse of the United States.

Two NATO sources said, however, that Trump had not issued a threat to pull the United States out of the alliance that it helped found to keep the peace in Europe after World War Two.

As well as Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, were 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.

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Alluding to Trump's comments about Germany, Kerry also said that "European energy security is an important topic for allies to discuss, even when they disagree".

TRUMP: "Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them".

The alliance lists the U.S.as spending an estimated 3.5 percent of its GDP on its military budget this year.

Trump next heads to the United Kingdom for a working visit and then to Finland for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"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. But, several sources said, Trump instead reopened in strong terms his demand that other countries spend more immediately. We have a fundamental disagreements on principles and objectives between Trump and the Europeans. "I think it's very inappropriate".

British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to set the tone on Wednesday by announcing more troops for NATO's Afghan training mission.

Trump's demand jolted the transatlantic alliance at the conclusion of this week's Brussels summit and, in the words of one diplomat briefed on the events, sent "everyone into a tailspin".

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