US president berates, forces NATO allies to boost defense spending

Source:AFP Published: 2018/7/12 23:03:43

US President Donald Trump said NATO countries had agreed to increase their defense spending after he forced crisis talks over his mounting demands at a fractious summit in Brussels.

Trump said there had been "tremendous progress" after his "firm" warnings during the tense two-day meeting in Brussels, during which he singled out Germany for special criticism.

"I let them know I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment and now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago," Trump said in a freewheeling press conference.

"Tremendous progress has been made, everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment they're going to up it at levels they've never thought of before. It's been amazing to see the level of spirit in that room."

French President Emmanuel Macron, who has cosied up to Trump despite their wide political differences, said NATO was "much stronger" after the summit.

Trump threw the summit into turmoil by demanding not only that allies reach their commitment to increase spending to 2 percent of GDP "immediately" - instead of by 2024 as previously agreed - but also telling them to eventually double the figure to a punishing 4 percent.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency session of all 29 allies to address Trump's demands, and the US leader said his hectoring had paid off.

"The commitment was at 2 percent and that'll be going up quite a bit higher than that," he said.

Trump himself accused Germany of being a "captive" of Russia due to a multi billion dollar pipeline deal, complaining that Germany and other NATO allies "pay only a fraction" of the cost of defending Europe.

Trump had explicitly linked NATO with a transatlantic trade row by saying the EU shut out US business while expecting America to defend it, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

"Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia. Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!" Trump tweeted on Thursday morning before the second day of talks.

Apart from the US, only three NATO countries hit the 2-percent target in 2017 - Britain, Greece and Estonia - but four more are expected to clear the threshold this year.

Posted in: AMERICAS

blog comments powered by Disqus