4% of GDP: Trump pushes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to double military spending

Lewis Collier
July 12, 2018

US President Donald Trump accused Germany on Wednesday of being a "captive" of Russian Federation due to its energy reliance and its support for the plan to double capacity of the Nord Stream pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing traditional routes through Ukraine.

Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the summit, questioning the value of a military alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defence spending. Trump tweeted an hour before the second day of the summit got underway.

Jens Stoltenberg, Nato secretary-general, pictured here among alliance leaders, struck a diplomatic note about Mr Trump's outspoken calls for other countries to live up to their goal of spending 2 per cent of their economic output on defence.

"Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations", Sarah Sanders told reporters A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron also played down Trump's words as rhetoric, saying "it is not a new demand".

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday pressed home a new demand that allies more than double defense spending, but his European counterparts sought to avoid more tension at a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, saying the president was friendlier than expected. "For many years I dreamed of freedom, just as many others did - also of the freedom to travel to the United States", she said then. So I think the secretary-general likes Trump. "He may be the only one, but that's OK with me".

Trump appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply Berlin was funding a pipeline which German Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a commercial venture.

President Trump publicly criticized Germany over its Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Russian Federation, calling the wealthiest nation in the European Union "a captive to Russian Federation". "We have a tremendous relationship with Germany", he said.

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Under NATO rules, countries with armed conflicts on their territory can not join the Western alliance. "We can't put up with it".

"I grew up in the part of Germany that was not free, the German Democratic Republic".

The meeting brought together Mr Trump and Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau, who irritated the United States president at the G7 by declaring that his country would not be pushed around.

The allies also expressed concern about Iran's intensified missile tests and said the alliance was committed "to permanently ensuring that Iran's nuclear programme remains peaceful".

"All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!"

Mr Trump dominated the day and is set to stay in the spotlight as he visits the United Kingdom and prepares for a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Not only did Trump demand on Twitter on Thursday that countries meet the 2% level by this year, not 2024, but he also said all countries should eventually hit 4%, which is more than even the United States now spends.

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