Trump Says NATO Members Agreed to 'Substantially Up' Contributions

Evarado Alatorre
Julio 13, 2018

Their cooperation was established more than 15 years ago. Its vocation, features, organizational structure and operative strategy have changed.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Talked about the expense, the tremendous expense for the United States. They're the closest to Russian Federation and feel threatened by Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its occupation of certain regions in Georgia since 2008.

Then he claimed "total credit" for increases in defence spending, although they were in fact agreed in 2014, and warned that "NATO is helping Europe more than it is helping us", in language that did not make a public case for unity.

As well as Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, were singled out by Trump for undershooting on their spending targets when USA taxpayers, funding a defence budget worth about 3.6 percent of their national income, foot much of NATO's bills.

Currently, all leaders were in a "confused state" because everyone was wondering what the condition for the four per cent meant, and the extent to which Trump was serious, Radev said. "We committed ourselves to spending a bit more".

French President Emmanuel Macron also said that leaders agreed to live up to their existing spending goals.

He triggered an emergency session on the spending issue, before emerging from the turmoil to say "I believe in Nato" in response to reports that he had threatened to pull out.

Following the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was careful not to contradict the president's claim of a substantial increase in spending but was only able to directly point to members' existing 2 percent commitments. "It's very detailed", Macron said, according to the AP. He said the allies had confirmed their intention to meet the goal of 2 per cent by 2024 and no more.

He had thrown the summit into crisis by demanding countries meet a spending target of 2 per cent of gross domestic product immediately, instead of by 2024, and to eventually double spending to 4 per cent.

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That claim was immediately refuted by French President Emmanuel Macron, who pointed out to journalists that the alliance communique released Wednesday recommitted North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to hitting the two per cent target by 2024 - a commitment they made in 2014, two years before Trump was elected.

It was a classic Trump performance - bluster, confrontation and demands followed by a unilateral declaration of victory - but his claim was quickly dismissed by the leaders of Italy and France, who disputed they had made any new pledges for increasing spending.

The U.S. Embassy has warned Americans to be careful in London during Trump's visit, recommending that they "exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings that may become violent", "keep a low profile" and "be aware of your surroundings".

"The President said his meeting with the Russian leader may be the easiest" part of his European tour, with massive protests expected over his presence in London.

The U.S. president said if other countries don't meet NATO's 2 percent of GDP spending target for defense, the U.S. would go it alone, DPA reported, citing unnamed sources.

"I felt, we all felt, that we needed more time for a discussion on burden sharing", Stoltenberg explained to reporters afterward - even though the summit statement had been signed the previous day.

Merkel stressed that Germany is NATO's second-biggest contributor when it comes to troops.

Warner said he's concerned the US "President can be taken advantage of" by Putin, and that if a meeting cannot have additional attendees it should be scrapped. He said the 29-nation alliance supports the territorial integrity of Georgia, including its sovereignty over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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