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13 July 2018, 10:23 | Glen Norman
Wrapping up talks with fellow leaders of the 29-nation trans-Atlantic alliance, Trump reaffirmed support for NATO, but only after stirring more discord with a vague threat that the United States could go its own way if the allies resisted his demands for additional military spending, capping a summit meeting punctuated by his escalating complaints.
"I let them know that I was extremely unhappy", he said, but added that the talks ended on the best of terms: "It all came together at the end".
In the end, leaders left with an awkward consensus, after hours in which Trump had been so aggressive in his approach with allies that reports made the rounds that he might pull the USA out.
"NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago", Trump said, adding that this morning's unscheduled crisis meeting was "fantastic" with leaders having "a great collegial spirit".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the summit "very intense", and other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, played down the extent to which they had pledged to accelerate spending plans as fast as Trump wanted.
"There is a communique that was published yesterday". South Korea, with an economy 40 times that of North Korea, spends 2.6 percent of its GDP on defense, while, by one estimate, North Korea spends 22 percent, the highest share on earth.
At present, not even the U.S. spends 4% of GDP on defense with only five - USA, UK, Estonia, Poland, and Greece - out of NATO's 29 members now meeting the agreed defense spending target of 2% GDP set for countries to meet by 2024 in accordance with a 2014 agreement.
Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia'sVladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday also turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation. Trump wants the spending to go up to 4% of GDP, which is more than even the US now spends on defense.
The issue dominated the president's public remarks after he arrived in Brussels on Tuesday, striking fear among European officials that the president would question the US' role in the alliance.
"He's been very nice to me the times I've met him".
Rosenstein said he had briefed Trump about the allegations earlier this week and said the timing of the announcement was a coincidence.
Trump had spent his time in Brussels berating members of the military alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defense, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defense if they were attacked.
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Speaking at a news conference before leaving Brussels, Trump said he would "of course" raise the issue of Russian interference in the 2016 USA election but continued to strike a friendly tone toward Putin, saying he considered him more a "competitor" than an enemy.
Trump brushed off the protests, saying, "I think they like me a lot in the United Kingdom".
"That is all", Macron said.
"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.
He also vowed to raise allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, amid an ongoing USA investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Moscow. "Are we contributing the kinds of resources and demonstrating the kind of commitment to the alliance that always needs to be there?"'
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