Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Trump insists he has ‘very good’ relations with Merkel

U.S. President Donald Trump attends a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday Trump insists he has ‘very good’ relations with Merkel
Steven Clarke | 12 July, 2018, 00:59

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US taxpayers, the latest remarks fuelled concerns among allies over the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II.

The alliance set a goal in 2014 for each country to reach the 2% of GDP spending target by 2024.

They might not have agreed with the USA president calling Germany a "captive" of Russian Federation, but some Republican lawmakers on Wednesday said they believe Donald Trump is right to shame one of America's most important allies into spending more on defense.

Brussels is the first stop of Trump's week-long European tour that will include a visit to Britain and a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump later reportedly pressured North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members to double the target to 4 percent of GDP and doubled down on his criticisms of both Germany and the 29-country alliance. The organization is asking all member states spend a minimum 2 percent of their GDP on defensive measures by 2024.

Trump repeatedly pressed Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary general, on why the US continued to pay money to the military alliance while countries continue to purchase energy from Moscow. But European states do not pay the United States for their defense, as Mr. Trump seems to imagine.

"This has gone on for many presidents".

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Still, it's significantly more than the next closest country. That is more than current USA spending as a proportion of GDP - and Pentagon budgets maintain bases and deploy fleets around the world, something that shouldn't be expected from Estonia or Spain. "We're protecting everybody. this has been going on for decades", Trump said. "This has been brought up by other presidents". "You tell me, is that appropriate?"

"Many countries are not paying what they should", Trump said. I want him to get something done to protect America's interests.

"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.

"We're having a great meeting". "So, I think that's inappropriate also".

However, his comment that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline" appeared to misstate German energy use - about 20 percent of which is accounted for by oil and gas imports from Russia. "We put the largest part of our military capabilities at the service of Nato.We are defending the interests of the U.S.". "Where energy supply is concerned, we diversify, but the main overarching topic is the summit - we want a summit that sends out the message of unity".

The defense minister agreed with Trump about defense spending. So we improved a lot but there's still work to be done.

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