Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Canada part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation communique affirming defence spending target despite PM's remarks


President Donald Trump reiterated the US commitment to NATO Thursday after a contentious meeting in which he said allies agreed to raise defense spending by $33 billion amid his reported threats to withdraw.

Despite that, Stoltenberg had been forced to call an extraordinary session of all 29 allies to discuss Trump's demands, in what officials said was one of the first of its kind at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit for a decade.

The president attacked "delinquent" USA allies upon arriving at the summit in his public remarks, returning to old criticism of the alliance centered around foreign nations' contributions to the military organization.

"They agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly", he said, though he did not name countries or give a timeline or figure.

"So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you'll just add it all up".

NATO, a pillar of the global order, emerged from a two-day confrontation with President Donald Trump on Thursday intact but distracted and shaken, a further challenge to the alliance as it faces an expansionist Russian Federation and growing authoritarianism among some of its own members.

Some will say that an unpredictable president such as Donald Trump is the only American leader who could achieve these outcomes - because the fear is real.

"What they're doing is spending - at a much faster clip they're going up to the 2 percent level", Trump said.

Two thirds have national plans in place to spend 2% of GDP on defence by 2024.

"And on that matter, for example, I think it's fair to say that maybe some point down the line there might be a UK-US trade agreement, but it's not going to happen any time soon because our focus is in negotiating with a big bloc, the European Union, to get a trade agreement done", Obama said in a joint appearance in London with then-PM David Cameron.

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"NATO is helping Europe more than it's helping us", Trump told reporters.

He insisted it had been a "very good" summit because of the frank and open discussion it had hosted.

There had been concern that President Trump might leave the alliance.

It's a typically Donald Trump approach to diplomacy and getting things done - he likes to sign pieces of paper that are largely symbolic, he attacks allies on Twitter but keeps sweet in person - and he sabre-rattles using the gravitas of the United States to get his way. "The current commitment is to reach two percent by 2024 but with get-out terms that would allow some to stretch it out to 2030".

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, declaring Wednesday that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation.

The mercurial tycoon said before leaving Washington that his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday "may be the easiest" part of his European tour, which also includes a trip to Britain, where the government is in crisis over Brexit.

The outdoor arrival ceremony at Blenheim - Trump wore a tuxedo and first lady Melania Trump a butter-yellow, chiffon off-the-shoulder gown - was a grand affair marked by a military band in bearskin hats, hundreds of business leaders in black tie and gorgeous setting sunlight.

When asked how that conversation might go, Trump said, "He may deny it".

"I believe through strength you get peace", he said.

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