Friday, 20 July, 2018

Donald Trump claims Germany 'totally controlled' by Russian Federation, airs list of grievances

Trump brands Germany a “captive of Russia,” days before he meets Putin Nato summit: Trump urges members urged to double defence spending
Steven Clarke | 12 July, 2018, 11:45

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The comments come amid wide expectations of a turbulent summit-Trump has long criticized the 29-member alliance, calling it "obsolete", and is extremely critical of countries that are failing to meet the target of 2% of their GDP as defense spending. Also present was France's President Emmanuel Macron, who tried this year to charm Mr Trump into more harmonious transatlantic relationship, only to see the USA president withdraw from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal and impose tariffs on European goods. "President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations".

"This isn't good for the United States and there are people across the aisle - and the Senate vote yesterday clearly showed - who know it and need to say it", he said. In April, Trump said on Twitter that the USA relationship with Russia is worse than the Cold War after Russian officials blocked a resolution at the U.N. Security Council to condemn chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

Singling out Germany isn't necessarily fair, said defense analyst Sophia Besch of the Center for European Reform.

Currently, NATO members are encouraged to put a target of 2% of their economic output to the Organization's budget, but the 2% figure is only a guideline.

His surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a "captive" of Russian Federation because of its gas links.

"I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union", she said of her youth in Communist East Germany.

"We are not prisoners, neither of Russian Federation nor of the United States", Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters. Afterwards he will spend the weekend in Scotland at his gold club, Trump Turnberry, in Ayrshire.

While Democratic congressional leaders condemned Trump's attacks on Germany as "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies", Republicans took a more benign view, and some backed him outright. But after a day of Trump throwing political hand grenades at Germany, he and Merkel gave a cool and cordial read out of their private meeting.

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Mr Trump is the 12th sitting U.S. president to make such a trip, and will spend time with the Queen and prime minister before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at his golf resort.

Trump's remarks on Germany and Russian Federation generated a sharply worded response from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

All 29 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members released a declaration which reaffirmed a commitment to increase military spending.

Merkel responded with equally sedate remarks. "You tell me, is that appropriate?"

The Brussels meeting comes less than a week before Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among USA allies over his proximity to the Russian president.

After Trump's cordial reception of Merkel in the afternoon, it seemed Trump avoided the kind of diplomatic disaster he set in motion at the G7 in June.

Trump arrived on the back of a barrage of criticism of Europe on issues ranging from trade to energy and above all his claims that the continent freeloads on the back of America for its defence.

Minutes later, Mr Tusk tweeted: "Dear Donald Trump".

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