Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members agreed to meet spending commitments

Blanche Robertson
July 13, 2018

The summit's dramatic, chaotic conclusion - complete with the USA president suddenly making demands following a formal communique - bore a striking similarity to Trump's departure from last month's G7 meetings in Quebec. People are paying money that they never paid before. They're happy to do it.

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With that, Trump moved on to the United Kingdom, where significant protests against him were expected.

The unexpected demand from Trump during a closed-door meeting of heads of state laid down a new, virtually unachievable marker for a peacetime military spending in an alliance already struggling to meet current defense spending commitments. Trump and Merkel later held businesslike talks on the sidelines of the summit.

"The problem is there is so little confidence in what the president is going to do that any suggestion of a deal by him is automatically suspect", said Eugene Rumer, a former USA national intelligence officer for Russian Federation now at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank. "There is a great collegial atmosphere in that room, that I don't think they've had for many years". "I'm very consistent", he replied.

Nothing has changed since Trump arrived in Brussels. He suggested an accelerated timeline, saying nations would be "spending at a much faster clip". "The commitment was 2%, ultimately it will be going up quite a bit higher than that", he said.

"So we have a commitment to spend 2 per cent".

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With allies fearing he could strike some sort of deal with NATO's key adversary, Trump said that he saw Putin as a "competitor" but not an "enemy". If this happens, it could result in an increase of $40 billion in defense spending. Later, he took to Twitter to demand that member countries get to 2 percent "IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025".

Asked if he threatened to leave, Trump did not give a direct answer.

"Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment", President Trump told reporters, going on to repeat the claim that he had secured new commitments 10 more times during a press conference in Brussels.

British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to set the tone on Wednesday by announcing more troops for NATO's Afghan training mission.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, Belgium, July 11, 2018.

The issue of Trump's opposition to a German-Russian gas pipeline, which he made part of the summit agenda by accusing Berlin to be under Moscow's control, persisted into the second day. Most officials and the invited leaders of non-NATO Afghanistan and Georgia were ushered out.

It was a surprising statement after two days during which Trump's "America first" foreign policy approach had presented a significant challenge for the organization. "I'm a very stable genius", he joked.

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