Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Dora Pope

Donald Trump: 'Nato is much stronger than it was two days ago'

Donald Trump: 'Nato is much stronger than it was two days ago'

The comments come amid wide expectations of a turbulent summit-Trump has long criticized the 29-member alliance, calling it "obsolete", and is extremely critical of countries that are failing to meet the target of 2% of their GDP as defense spending.

President Trump publicly criticized Germany over its Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal with Russian Federation, calling the wealthiest nation in the European Union "a captive to Russian Federation".

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.

The unusually harsh assessment from the country's former top diplomat came after Trump said at a breakfast meeting in Brussels that he considers Germany to be "captive to Russia" because it is getting much of its energy from the nation and continued his attacks on other allies for their levels of defence spending.

Trump's surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a "captive" of Russian Federation because of its gas links and singling out Berlin for failing to pay its way.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and was glad a united Germany was now able to "make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions". "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025".

Two NATO sources said, however, that Trump had not issued a threat to pull the United States out of the alliance that it helped found to keep the peace in Europe after World War Two.

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'That is why I welcome President Trump's forthcoming meeting with President Putin, open channels of communication between the U.S. and Russian Federation are key to managing the risks of confrontation'.

"What's more surprising, the fact that the President Trump is calling them out on that or that previous presidents haven't?" he asked.

During the meetings, he demanded via tweet that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025" and then rattled them further by privately suggesting member nations should spend four per cent of their gross domestic product on defence - a bigger share than even the United States now pays, according to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation statistics.

Amid the tumult, British Prime Minister Theresa May, whose government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union, sounded a call for solidarity among allies.

On day two, leaders will welcome non-NATO partners including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko to the alliance's new glass-and-steel headquarters as they seek to focus on policy rather than politics. "He may be the only one, but that's OK with me".

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said, "We should first get to two percent", adding that eight of the 29 allies were meeting that target. He authorized the deployment of an additional 3,000 troops, bringing the total to around 15,000.

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