Trump rails against Germany, demands allies double North Atlantic Treaty Organisation spending

Toru Hanai  Reuters

Mr Trump's 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.

"I think we should first get to 2 percent, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that", NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg told reporters, without speaking directly to Trump's comments.

But, several sources said, Trump instead reopened in strong terms his demand that other countries greatly speed up their progress toward a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation target of spending at least two percent of their GDP on defense, which now has a deadline of 2024 with get-out terms available that can stretch it to 2030.

The president also took to Twitter Wednesday to repeat his controversial belief that Germany is "totally controlled" by Russian Federation because of its reliance on Vladimir Putin's country for energy supplies.

United States President Donald Trump on Tuesday expressed dissatisfaction with trade between the US and the European Union (EU), stating the latter makes it hard for USA's farmers and workers to do business in Europe.

They are Estonia, Greece, Poland, Romania and the United Kingdom. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that "NATO is indispensable".

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in a message to Mr Trump that "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem".

His comments about Germany and Russian Federation drew a tart riposte from German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she arrived later at the summit.

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump said.

At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the USA on trade and needed to immediately boost spending.

It was the most recent in a series of demands and insults that critics fear will undermine the decades-old alliance, coming days before Trump sits down with Putin at the conclusion of his closely watched European trip.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. Hopefully nothing bad happens", she said.

But Trump has been more conciliatory behind the scenes, including at a leaders' dinner Wednesday.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for "fair play" and more respect for multilateralism.

"As we engage Russian Federation we must do so from a position of unity and strength - holding out hope for a better future, but also clear and unwavering on where Russian Federation needs to change its behavior for this to become a reality", she said.

Democratic congressional leaders issued a rare joint statement harshly condemning Trump's remarks.

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