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

Fact check: Trump's half-truths and false statements at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Fact check: Trump's half-truths and false statements at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

GETTYThe US President said the other members have agreed an unprecedented increase in defence spending.

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 US taxpayers, funding a defence budget worth about 3.6 percent of their national income, foot much of NATO's bills.

Merkel, facing domestic political opposition to pushing defence spending up from 1.2 percent of GDP, said she explained to Trump how much was already being done.

President Donald Trump closed out his chaotic two-day visit to NATO Thursday by declaring victory, claiming that member nations caved to his demands to significantly increase defense spending and reaffirming his commitment to the alliance. I've convinced the others to increase their military spending.

Many in the region also welcomed Trump's opening salvo when he lashed out at Germany's pursuit of a gas pipeline venture with Russian Federation, which Trump said made Berlin "captive" to Russian Federation.

"The problem is Trump seems to really see no benefit that allies provide the United States", says James Goldgeier, visiting senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

The U.S. President was also asked if he would be prepared to recognise Crimea as part of Russian Federation after it was annexed from Ukraine by Moscow in 2014.

"He's a competitor", the president said.

On Thursday, Trump reiterated his criticism of NATO in a tweet, stating, "Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russian Federation".

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Sources familiar with the first round of closed-door talks on Thursday told the Reuters news agency that Mr. Trump carried his firm stance on military spending from Twitter into the meeting rooms.

In an apparent swipe at Trump, he added: "Sometimes the corridors, comments and tweets take on more importance than what is negotiated, said or endorsed by heads of state".

But French president Emmanuel Macron denied there had been an agreement to boost spending over 2%.

". It is up to President Trump to hold Putin accountable for his actions during the meeting in Helsinki".

Macron said: There is a communique that was published yesterday. Citing the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, he said: "Secretary Stoltenberg gives us total credit, meaning me, I guess, in this case, total credit".

"We didn't know what to expect, it was a positive outcome", he said of the dinner in a Brussels park, where leaders were treated to an acrobatic display and saxophone music.

In a characteristically freewheeling news conference at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters, covering his impending visit to Britain, talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, Iran, China, and his father and mother's European roots, Trump also returned to a favoured theme. He linked calls for higher defence spending to complaints about Germany's trade surplus and renewed a threat to raise tariffs on EU-made cars if trade terms do not change.

"He was in a good mood, he said Europe was a continent he appreciated", Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters.

Michal Baranowski of the German Marshall Fund think tank said the substance of Trump's message on Nord Stream 2 was very much in line with what many people in the region and beyond think.

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