Trump Zings NATO, and EU Chief Zings Back

Donald and Melania Trump

Only eight of the 29 NATO members are expected to reach the target of spending 2 percent or more of their GDP on their armed forces this year, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in February.

"I'm going to tell NATO: You've got to start paying your bills". Speaking about solidarity, I want to dispel the American President's argument, which says that the U.S. alone protects Europe against our enemies, and that the United States is nearly alone in this struggle.

Trump has shown little regard for America's traditional bonds with the Old World, publicly upbraiding world leaders at NATO's new headquarters a year ago for not spending enough on defense and delivering searing indictments of Western trading partners last month at an global summit in Canada. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Wales that year, countries agreed to "reverse the trend of declining defence budgets" and "further a more balanced sharing of costs and responsibilities".

However, allies seem more concerned by Trump's approach than his predecessors'.

NATO is keen to damp down trans-Atlantic differences during the two-day summit at its Brussels headquarters, despite divisions among the alliance's 29 members over Trump's policies on trade and his decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and an worldwide climate agreement. He has often railed against the US's key allies, accusing fueling trade deficits with the US. They include the growing Russian threat, transnational terrorism, cyberwarfare, piracy on the high seas and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, among others. "They should let Russian Federation come back in, because we should have Russian Federation at the negotiating table".

No plan for U.S. troops to leave Germany: White House
President Donald Trump during their bilateral meeting at the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. The summit also will include a bilateral meeting and a working lunch between Mr.

Asked about Boris Johnson's resignation, Trump added: "Boris Johnson is a friend of mine. Not fair to the US taxpayer", he posted on his Twitter account. "And that is a change that Europe has a problem to deal with". He may have had political reasons for tying trade to security: It allowed him to bypass Congress as he imposed the tariffs.

European officials say while USA defence spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments' military budgets, just 15 percent of United States expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defence. Yet Trump has shown the ability to lead his base wherever he wants to take it.

"These are not the things that make headlines, and Trump likes headlines", says Charles Kupchan, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

In direct costs, the USA now pays about 22 percent of NATO's "principal budgets" that are funded by all alliance members based on a cost-sharing formula that factors in the gross national income of each country. "But the United Kingdom certainly has a...they have a lot of things going on", he said to the reporters. NATO's allies can always try to spend even more on defense, but asking them to pay the United States back dues that they never promised and do not owe is an impossible demand.

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