President Trump told North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on Wednesday he wants to see them spend four percent of their GDP on defense, doubling the now agreed-upon goal of two percent - a number most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states will fall well short of meeting for years to come.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel denied the claims, but had a harder time fending off Trump's criticism that Germany and many other allies were not meeting defense spending targets of 2 percent of GDP.
Trump plugged three top US defense contractors in a televised press conference, and said he told less wealthy nations he would "help them out" in procurement of USA -made products and pitched major USA firms.
The U.S. president's shake-up of the NATO summit had begun Wednesday at a working breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, when Trump accused Germany of being controlled by Russian interests. The United States, far the biggest economy, spent 3.6 percent previous year, while Germany, the second biggest, paid out just 1.2 percent and only a handful of countries met the 2 percent target.
'One of the things that we have we have many wealthy countries with us today, but we have some that aren't so wealthy, ' Trump said.
"Some are at 2 per cent, others have agreed definitely to go to 2 per cent, and some are going back to get the approval, and which they will get to go to 2 per cent", he said.
The unexpected demand from Trump during a closed-door meeting of heads of state laid down a new, virtually unachievable marker for a peacetime military spending in an alliance already struggling to meet current defense spending commitments.
The tough rhetoric against a core ally comes just days before Trump is set to meet one-on-one with Putin in Finland.
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With allies fearing he could strike some sort of deal with NATO's key adversary, Trump said that he saw Putin as a "competitor" but not an "enemy".
Poles remain grateful to U.S. President Ronald Reagan's role in defeating communism and see the United States as its only real power that could protect it from falling under Moscow's control again. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany. "Not acceptable! All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!" Trump tweeted this morning before the second day of talks. "Hopefully someday, maybe, he'll be a friend", said Trump.
Stoltenberg stopped short of agreeing with Trump that allied leaders agreed to substantially increase their contributions to the alliance.
"The people voted to break it up (Britain's ties with the EU)", Trump told a press conference in Brussels on Thursday. "Last year was the biggest increase in 25 years". "I don't know that is what they voted for".
The emergency session came amid reports that Trump had threatened to leave the pact if allies didn't immediately up their spending.
Going into the week he was pressuring them to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense, a figure that was established in 2002 and reaffirmed in 2014 when the allies not meeting the target pledged to reach it within a decade. "He does not see the value, and does not recognize that the U.S. also benefits from it".
"Prior to previous year, where I attended my last meeting it was going down, the amount of money being spent by countries was going down and down very substantially", he said.
In 2017, the United States spent 3.1 percent of its GDP on defense, while Estonia, Greece, Poland and the United Kingdom stand as the only countries which have crossed the two percent threshold.