Trump asks North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to boost defence spending

This week’s summit in Brussels could expose cracks in the Nato alliance

This week’s summit in Brussels could expose cracks in the Nato allianceWAKIL KOHSAR AFP GETTY IMAGES

Trump's tongue-lashing accelerated during a pre-summit breakfast, when he traded his usual long-distance Twitter attacks for a face-to-face confrontation with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump himself said, "It all came together at the end, and yes, it was a little tough for a little while".

Asked whether Trump had threatened to leave NATO, Macron said, "Generally, I do not comment on what goes on behind the scenes, but at no moment did President Trump - neither bilaterally nor multilaterally - say that he was intending to leave NATO".

Trump's weeklong trip to Europe will continue with a stop in Scotland before ending with a sit-down in Helsinki with Putin.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to increase military spending, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and even raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence as required if they were ever attacked.

Carefully-choreographed sessions and the leaders' dinner in a Brussels museum on Wednesday night are unlikely to mollify Trump, NATO diplomats say, as they found out to their dismay in May previous year at a special dinner to welcome the president.

A meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Johnson, who quit on Monday over Theresa May's Chequers Brexit deal, is likely to prove embarrassing for the Prime Minister as she attempts to assert control over the warring Conservative Party. But NATO members, including Germany, argue they have boosted contributions as part a pledge to kick in at least 2 percent of annual economic output by the middle of the next decade.

While nobody on either side expects big breakthroughs, including on USA sanctions, the summit is seen by Moscow as US recognition of Russia's status as a great power and an overdue US realization that its interests must be taken into account.

President Trump, who flew into the Belgian capital on Tuesday evening, is angry that the United States is paying a disproportionate amount in defence spending.

The motion also called on the administration to "urgently prioritize the completion of a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to counter malign activities of Russian Federation that seek to undermine faith in democratic institutions in the United States and around the world".

TRUMP: "Germany is a captive of Russian Federation because they supply (energy)".

"He has a clear message, I think, that has increased interest and understanding of defense spending, and what we've seen is that defense spending has started to increase", Stoltenberg said.

Responding to criticism from Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, who complained that Trump is "criticizing Europe nearly daily", Trump says the United States is "being taken advantage of" by the European Union.

"We lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union".

Trump has repeatedly mischaracterized the spending target, wrongly describing it as a fee that countries pay to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the USA rather than their own military. "The transatlantic bond is not one, there are many ties, some of them have been weakened".

Experts fear the trip could produce a repeat of the dynamics from Trump's last trip overseas, when he admonished Group of Seven allied nations at a summit in Canada before heading to Singapore, where he showered praise on one of America's longest-standing adversaries, North Korea's Kim Jong Un.

Separately, the US envoy said she's concerned that Russian Federation is trying to "flip" Turkey and other American allies to its column.

"I think that getting along with Russian Federation, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing", he added.

"It will become increasingly hard to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments", Trump said in a letter addressed to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg seen by Bloomberg News.

But Trump, after berating alliance countries for not meeting a target that is six years away, then abruptly said Wednesday that they must do so immediately, and that the figure should in fact be 4 percent.

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