NATO holds emergency session as Trump presses on spending


BRUSSELS — President Donald Trump’s demands that NATO member nations dramatically increase their spending on defence led leaders of the military alliance to meet in an emergency session on Thursday, officials said.

Two officials attending the summit confirmed the session. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the development.

Trump is expected to hold a news conference Thursday.

Trump on Thursday stepped up his pressure tactics on fellow NATO nations, calling out U.S. allies on Twitter as he attended a second day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance.

In a series of tweets from Brussels, Trump said “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia.”

He complained the United States “pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe” and demanded that member nations meet their pledge to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence, which “must ultimately go to 4%!”

Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the NATO summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defence spending.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia’s Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany’s own ties to Russia, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel’s government “totally controlled” and “captive” to Russia.

He continued the attack Thursday, complaining that “Germany just started paying Russia, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russia.”

“Not acceptable!” he railed before arriving late at NATO headquarters for morning meetings that will include talks with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia. In the afternoon, he heads to his next stop: the United Kingdom.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, echoed Trump’s rhetoric, telling Fox Business Network that “Germany is a tremendous problem, both for Europe itself, and for the United States in this sense.”

“What’s more surprising, the fact that the President Trump is calling them out on that or that previous presidents haven’t?” he asked. “It’s really extraordinary that Donald Trump has to be the person to point out that the emperor in Europe has no clothes.”

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she had “experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions and that’s very good.”

During the trip, Trump has questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?”

He demanded that NATO countries “Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025” and then rattled them further by …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News

      

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