Donald Trump says United States commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation remains strong

RED BOX | COMMENTJuly 12 2018 12:01am The Times If Trump smashes the crockery at Nato May will have to pick up the pieces Sir Christopher Meyer

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"Will President Trump tell Putin that sanctions will not go away until he withdraws from Crimea?"

Reversing the harsh criticisms he has leveled at NATO, President Trump says the alliance is very strong - in part because of promises from America's allies to boost their military budgets to 2 percent of their gross domestic product. In 2017, the U.S.is estimated to have spent more than 69% of the cumulative total.

"They have fought with American troops for seventeen years", he reminded Fox's viewers.

In an unexpected twist, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders held an unplanned emergency session on the last day of their two-day summit, which has been upended by Trump's attacks on allies over defense spending.

"Many countries are not paying what they should", Trump said, seated across from a visibly rattled Stoltenberg. The target date to get military spending to 2% is 2024. Only the USA spends more than 3%, with seven other countries above or near. But the vehemence of Trump's on-camera breakfast attack on Germany for its backing of a second Nord Stream gas pipeline, and for being "captive" to Russian Federation came as a shock.

Trump's remarks on Germany and Russian Federation generated a sharply worded response from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russian Federation and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it's not", the president said.

Throughout the day, leaders were peppered with questions about Trump's behavior and whether or not they agreed with his position on Germany.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev disclosed that Trump had made the demand and asked what it meant for the future of the alliance that has been the bedrock of European security for 70 years.

Trump's comments came in a wide-ranging news conference after attending a special meeting on defense spending.

"The United States continues to devote more resources to the defence of Europe when the Continent's economy, including Germany's, are doing well and security challenges abound", Trump wrote to German chancellor Angela Merkel, the New York Times reported.

In 2017, the alliance saw its biggest increase in defense spending "in a generation", he said, signaling to his aggrieved ally in the White House that "we see that all Allies have started to increase defense spending based on the national plans we have agreed to develop a year ago".

Merkel responded with equally sedate remarks.

After Trump's cordial reception of Merkel in the afternoon, it seemed Trump avoided the kind of diplomatic disaster he set in motion at the G7 in June.

While all eyes will be on what Trump does and says at the summit, there are some agreements that have been hashed out beforehand and are expected to get leaders' approval.

Trump wrote in a second tweet, continuing a line of attack he opened Wednesday against Germany over its reliance on a gas pipeline from Russia: "On top of it all, 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". "It's about $2.8 billion and the USA pays 22 percent of that, not 90 percent".

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