Trump sets off for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in combative mood on military spending

Trump sets off for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in combative mood on military spending

Trump sets off for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in combative mood on military spending

"After all, you don't have that many", the former Polish prime minister said in a rebuke of Mr. Trump's criticism of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations who are not meeting their defense spending obligations.

In a startling public outburst, Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for contributing to NATO defense spending that was meant to protect Europe from Russia.

New figures published on Tuesday showed that only seven European NATO countries - Britain, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania - would reach the 2.0-percent spending target in 2018.

"We do have a lot of allies, but we can not be taken advantage of. I want to compliment the secretary general, he's worked very hard on this problem".

In a pointed apparent reference to Mr Trump's meeting with Mr Putin, Mr Tusk noted that European military spending "is an investment in our security, which can not be said with confidence about Russian and Chinese spending".

The meeting comes ahead of Mr Trump's four-day working visit to the United Kingdom, during which he will hold talks with Mrs May at Chequers, meet the Queen in Windsor Castle and spend two days in Scotland preparing for Monday's face-to-face summit with Mr Putin in Finland.

How much do countries spend on defence then? "Who would think?" Trump told reporters in Washington before departing.

Getting ready to leave for Europe.

"I would like to directly address President Trump, who has for a long time now been criticising Europe nearly daily, for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defence capabilities, and for living off the US". The U.S.is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them", Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, adding: "Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer.

His stance earned him a summit eve rebuke by EU President Donald Tusk who said that Trump should "appreciate" his allies and that the United States didn't have many. And a year ago, during his first visit to its Belgium headquarters, Trump initially declined to explicitly support the organization's defense agreement.

The alliance says that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by that year, based on current trends.

In addition to stating that his meeting with Putin could be his "easiest" during his European trip, Trump also wouldn't say whether he considered the Russian leader a friend or foe.

"He is going to have a strong and good summit of allies where we talk frankly, but we are together on the big issues and that's a position of strength going to talk with Vladimir Putin", the ambassador said.

His main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defence budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defence by 2024.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives on the continent wounded by the high-profile resignations of two senior cabinet members and Brexiteers: David Davis and Boris Johnson. "Explain that. And it can't be explained", Trump said.

Vladimir Putin. The not-exactly glacial relationship between Russia's autocratic leader and the volatile American president has caused some angst in diplomatic circles.

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