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11 July 2018, 03:27 | Erica Roy
Trump Presses NATO on Defense Spending Ahead of Summit
In a startling public outburst against the NATO heavweight, Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new US$11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for contributing to NATO defence spending that was meant to protect Europe from Russia.
Mr Trump appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russian Federation to Germany's north-eastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russian Federation can send directly to Germany.
Stoltenberg said alliance leaders on July 12 will meet with the presidents of Georgia and Ukraine "to address regional challenges" and to "discuss their defense reforms and NATO's continuing support".
And she said she expected Trump to recommit to one of the founding articles of NATO - Article 5 - which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on them all.
Before he left Andrews Air Force Base, President Trumpreiterated his demand for the United States to pay less and other members of the Western military alliance to pay more, and he linked the issue to the EU's trade surplus with the US.
The U.S. accounts for roughly 70 percent of the alliance members' total military outlays, a share that Trump says is unfair to American taxpayers.
"In terms of a government who's radically rethinking the nature of its committeemen to Europe, the British are the closest to the Trump administration on those issues", he said.
"The major thing, the major deliverable, the major overall theme of this summit is going to be NATO's strength and unity", Hutchison told reporters on a call previewing the summit, before ticking down a list of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation plans for boosting the alliance.
After the two-day summit in Brussels, Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
But remarks in which he seemed to overstate by a factor of three Berlin's reliance on Russian energy and said that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia" drew a tart riposte from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrived later at the summit.
"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia", Mr Trump said.
Previous US presidents also urged greater defence spending from European nations. Trump tweeted on Tuesday, quickly following up that tweet with one accusing the European Union of "making it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe".
"This is a national decision", Stoltenberg said.
Crucially, they do not include Germany, Europe's biggest economy and prime target for Trump's invective, which is on course to spend just 1.24 percent of GDP on defence in 2018.
"So, we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries", the president said.
"So, we're going to have a meeting on that and the secretary general has worked very hard on that, he understands the problem and hopefully we can get it resolved. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all - who would think?"
"Men like him, who look after the interests of their own citizens - we could do with dozens of them in this country", Mr. Salvini said.
European Council President Donald Tusk set the scene by warning Mr. Trump that he is losing friends fast. "So, I think that's inappropriate also".
Russia has been accused of meddling in the 2016 USA presidential elections, and several high-level investigations are examining the possibility of collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian officials.
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