Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Trudeau, Trump talk trade during sideline meeting at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels

Francois Mori  AP Francois Mori AP
Melinda Barton | 12 July, 2018, 16:28

The US even reportedly mulled the possibility of a large-scale withdrawal of American troops stationed in Germany, as punishment for what he says is Berlin's inadequate financial contribution towards the alliance.

It followed an uncomfortable first round at the summit where anxious Western allies were subjected to the USA president's "America first" approach.

Sources close to the talks told DW's Teri Schultz that Trump demanded European NATO members meet the alliance target immediately, rather than increase spending gradually as agreed to at a previous NATO summit in 2014.

Trump has been pushing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to increase their spending, due to decades of the US paying vastly more than its European partners and the majority of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members continuing to miss their spending commitments.

TRUMP: "Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them".

Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an "exchange of views" with Trump.

Trump's attack comes at a time when Germany, Europe's biggest economy, spends little on defense and has a woefully unprepared and inoperable military.

"Instead, President Trump just insults friends who have sacrificed to hold that pressure together".

The 29 allies are due to restate a commitment to try to spend two percent of GDP on defense by 2024, according to excerpts of their final summit declaration seen by AFP.

Amid reports that he had threatened to pull out of the alliance due to the dispute, Mr Trump said the United States had a strong commitment.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (center L) shakes hands with U.S. President Donald Trump during a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018.

Trump touched down in Brussels aboard Air Force One hot on the heels of a stern warning from the EU's top official that America should "appreciate" its allies.

Stoltenberg estimated European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to their military spending by 2024 and said, "this is really adding some extra momentum", apparently meaning Trump's pressure. "It's very inappropriate. It certainly doesn't seem to make sense that they paid billions of dollars to Russian Federation, and now we have to defend them against Russian Federation".

Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump's aspirational target of 4% of gross domestic product was above the United States own spending on defence.

Though NATO allies have squabbled in the past, Trump seemed to be leaving in his wake not just bruised feelings, but deeper concerns about the future of the Western alliance that has served as a bedrock of the global order.