Germany will make sovereign decision on military spending, Maas says

14 July, 2018, 04:32 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • REUTERS    
   BRAZEN The President with Mrs May at Brussels summit

Other leaders, however, played down the extent to which they went beyond existing commitments to increase contributions to their own defence, as Trump demanded they share more of what he calls an unfair burden on US taxpayers in funding an alliance focused on discouraging pressure from a resurgent Moscow.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin were slated to meet over the coming days in Finland.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was forced to call an emergency budget meeting of all the allies to deal with the staggering demand. Partners including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker therefore left the discussion.

Speaking in Brussels, he told reporters: "Yesterday, I let them know I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment".

Trump said he made his anger clear to allies on Wednesday. They're the closest to Russian Federation and feel threatened by Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its occupation of certain regions in Georgia since 2008. "That's a big difference", Trump said. And some argued that even the existing spending targets might not actually be in the best interests of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members and global security, questioning whether spending more money is really necessary or advised.

But by Thursday, leaders from France, Germany and Italy offered no support for Trump's claim that he had wrung new concessions out of the alliance on their military spending.

They then moved on to President Trump's accusation that Germany is beholden to Russia because they get there energy needs from Russian companies. "I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius...and a very stable genius at that!"

The summit's dramatic, chaotic conclusion - complete with the US president suddenly making demands following a formal communique - bore a striking similarity to Trump's departure from last month's G7 meetings in Quebec.

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Just eight countries are forecast to reach the two per cent goal this year, and 15 by 2024.

Trump also singled out Germany over its low-levels of defense spending - it now spends 1.24 percent of its GDP on defense - and renewed his criticism of a controversial gas pipeline deal between Germany and Russian Federation made a day earlier.

Trump is slated to meet with Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

Stavridis said he thinks it's probably in Canada's interest to invest in better interoperability capabilities with other allied forces - but at the end of the day the decision to increase defence spending is ultimately up to Canadians, not Americans.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir 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. He also said any real progress on issues the leaders discuss "could take time".

Mr Trump said he would be discussing the civil war in Syria, the conflict in Ukraine, as well as allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA election.

"Trump said things plainly, as it normal between friends and allies. And I know that's valued very highly over here and people can disagree strongly and still go out to dinner".

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