Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Donald Trump says U.S. commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation remains strong

Donald Trump says U.S. commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation remains strong

What NATO partners dispute is Trump's repeated suggestion that the USA gets little in return for its commitment to defend member countries if threatened.

The president again described Putin as a competitor, declining to characterize the longtime USA adversary as an enemy even as he said he hopes one day they might even be friends.

Trump said he "probably" had the power to unilaterally take the US out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if he wanted to, without the approval of the US Congress. Trump said Germany agreed to accelerate its defense spending increases.

Trump scolded leaders here and criticized some countries, including Germany and Spain, for failing to contribute more to their defenses and for relying too heavily on the largesse of the United States.

"I think he has to expect they're going to deny, deny everything", the South Dakotan said.

He and first lady Melania Trump were caught on camera chatting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during an evening reception before a working dinner.

European Union figures show Russian Federation may be responsible for between 50 percent and 75 percent of Germany's gas imports, but gas makes up less than 20 percent of Germany's power production mix.

Mr. Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defense, accusing Europe of freeloading off the US and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defense if they were ever attacked.

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This has been a complaint from those inside the Beltway and beyond ever since Trump entered the political ring during his 2016 campaign for the presidency.

The alliance is much stronger than it was at the outset of the conference, Trump said Thursday, taking credit for what he said are increased commitments from allies to up spending, citing an increased commitment of $33 billion to the alliance. "We're protecting everybody. And yet we're paying a lot of money to protect". "Everybody in that room got along and they agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly".

Trump has long complained that European NATO members do not pay enough for their own defence, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

Trump also singled out Germany over its low-levels of defense spending - it now spends 1.24 percent of its GDP on defense - and renewed his criticism of a controversial gas pipeline deal between Germany and Russian Federation made a day earlier. That summit turned into a fiasco when Trump took aim at the summit's host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, soon after he departed the meeting.

"It will be over a relatively short period of years", Trump said.

Earlier in the day, Trump was on the attack, going after America's allies even as he refused the day before to call Putin an adversary of the United States.

He then set the tone for the day with a blistering attack on key ally Germany at a breakfast meeting with Nato's Stoltenberg.

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