Published: Fri, July 13, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

Canada part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation communique affirming defence spending target despite PM's remarks

Canada part of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation communique affirming defence spending target despite PM's remarks

Trump did not specify which countries had committed to what, and it remained unclear whether any had changed their plans.

While in Latvia Trudeau did announce Canada would stay in the Baltic nation for four more years, until 2023 and boost its number of troops to 540 from the current 455.

Trump: "The commitment was at 2% [GDP], ultimately that will be going quite a bit higher than that."

The number that the president mentioned - 2 percent of countries' GDP - was in fact a main product of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meetings four years ago, when member nations pledged to either maintain the threshold or to meet it by 2024 - a deadline that seemingly still stands after this week's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation sessions.

Of the 29-member alliance, only the UK, Poland, Estonia and debt-ridden Greece met the benchmark in 2017.

After throwing hand grenades for a day-and-a-half behind the scenes, insulting allies, and questioning the military alliance's very reason for being, the media was preparing for Mr Trump to do the same in a formal press conference - albeit hastily arranged. "It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024".

"They're here as a prime minister or as a president, and they can't necessarily go in and say, 'This is what we're going to do.' But they're going back for approvals", Trump said, acknowledging the political realities. The US is paying for Europe's protection, then loses billions on Trade. And the president's declaration was also directly contradicted by one of his closest personal allies, French President Emanuel Macron.

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Leaders of Azerbaijan and Georgia, non-NATO members, were asked to leave for the emergency session.

Trump did not directly answer questions about whether he had threatened to take the United States out of the alliance, saying he "told people I'd be very unhappy if they didn't up their commitments very substantially". One official said the morning meeting Thursday was taking place against the backdrop of Trump threatening allies to "go it alone" unless if they agree to increase their defense budgets immediately. "All I can do is say "Did you?' and 'Don't do it again" - but he may deny it". On the other side, twenty-seven European allies.

Trump heads to Britain on Thursday, where the government is in crisis over Brexit and where tensions with Russian Federation have spiked after London blamed Moscow for the death this month of a British woman from contact with the Novichok nerve agent.

EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to "appreciate your allies" and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

Instead, a series of events - a black-tie dinner with business leaders, a meeting with May and an audience with Queen Elizabeth II - will happen outside the bustling city, where Mayor Sadiq Khan has been in a verbal battle with Trump.

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".

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