Donald Trump pushes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to double their defence spending

Trump Slams Germany as Being a 'Captive' to Russia Ahead of NATO Summit

But he noted that President Barack Obama had raised the issue in the past, securing the 2024 target date in 2014, and did so using diplomacy rather that "bombast and demagoguery". He told fellow leaders he would prefer a 4 percent target, closer to the 3.6 percent of GDP the United States spends on defense.

Ahead of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, Trump sent letters to allies Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Prime Minister Charles Michel of Belgium blasting them for not spending enough on defense ― an oft-repeated criticism of the alliance.

"Germany is just paying a little over 1 percent" of its GDP annually to the alliance's budget, Trump griped.

This summit is shaping up as the most divisive in Nato's 69-year-old history.

Since the start of his campaign for president more than three years ago, Trump has been accused by critics of taking a more favorable stance toward Russian Federation, a traditional rival to USA power, than the United States' allies.

"Germany is totally controlled by Russia", Trump said in a searing critique over breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

After the two-day summit in Brussels, Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel quickly pushed back.

"I myself lived through a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union".

Merkel said it was very important to have such exchanges like the meeting she and Trump were having because "after all, we are partners".

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His comments were linked to the president's push for other European countries to pay more for its defence needs, in particular Germany.

Trump played up the success of the bilateral meeting and the potential to resolve issues.

"I think we meet with our adversaries".

Jens Stoltenberg told reporters: "I think we should first get to 2%, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that".

While the United States and Europe have historically been close military and economic allies, President Donald Trump has upended that order by repeatedly taking Europe to task over defense spending and trade while pursuing a closer USA relationship with adversary Russian President Vladimir Putin.

After Trump's cordial reception of Merkel in the afternoon, it seemed Trump avoided the kind of diplomatic disaster he set in motion at the G7 in June.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that "NATO is indispensable".

"President Trump has a very direct language and message on defence spending, but fundamentally we all agree that we need fair burden sharing", Stoltenberg said on his arrival at the summit. Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US taxpayers, the latest remarks fuelled concerns among allies over the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II. "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025".

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