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

Trump, Merkel trade barbs over Russian Federation at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Trump, Merkel trade barbs over Russian Federation at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Germany presently spends about 1.2 percent on defense.

The comments come amid wide expectations of a turbulent summit-Trump has long criticized the 29-member alliance, calling it "obsolete", and is extremely critical of countries that are failing to meet the target of 2% of their GDP as defense spending. "And then numerous ... countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russian Federation, where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russian Federation".

The meeting brought together Mr Trump and Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau, who irritated the United States president at the G7 by declaring that his country would not be pushed around.

At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the United States on trade and needed to immediately boost spending.

"He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 percent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 percent", Sarah Sanders told reporters. "That makes America less safe".

Trump has long pushed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to meet their agreed-to target of 2 per cent by 2024 and has accused those who don't of freeloading off the U.S. But it raises an unavoidable question prior to Trump's meeting with Vladimir Putin on July 16.

As the day began, Trump wasted no time going on the offensive as he began a week of high-stakes diplomacy on both sides of the former Cold War divide.

Trump aired his criticism in a tense exchange with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as cameras rolled during a pre-breakfast media opportunity usually reserved for pale and formulaic political remarks.

"Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation", said Trump.

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Trump said: "If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russian Federation".

Under NATO rules, countries with territorial conflicts can not join the Western alliance and neither country is expected to progress in membership talks.

The US president was similarly effusive when he met German chancellor Angela Merkel. "We decide our own policies and make our own decisions". Since President Trump took office, he has been highly critical of the spending guideline put in place by the alliance.

Trump arrived on the back of a barrage of criticism of Europe on issues ranging from trade to energy and above all his claims that the continent freeloads on the back of America for its defence.

After a later bilateral meeting with Merkel, Trump said he brought up the nat gas pipeline, as well as military spending and trade, with the German leader. Kay Bailey Hutchison, said last week that the goal of the summit is to project unity. "So explain that", Trump said.

Additionally, companies in Western Europe, including Germany, are helping to build the Nord Stream 2 - a new pipeline from the Baltic Sea to Europe that is likely to boost Russia's natural-gas exports.

By slapping higher tariffs on European Union metals experts and threatening more on cars, Trump has shown his anger at the USA trade deficit with the European Union.

Trump's laser-focus on Germany has unsettled Berlin, which had grown accustomed to a strong relationship with President Barack Obama.

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