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Trump’s demand sparks emergency meeting as US President sows NATO chaos

Thursday - 12/07/2018 15:21
THE President is sowing chaos on his Europe tour, with one wild demand in Brussels triggering an emergency meeting.
 
The President is expected to cause further drama, and face huge protests, during his time in the UK. Picture: AFP Photo / Tolga AkmenSource:AFP
The President is expected to cause further drama, and face huge protests, during his time in the UK. Picture: AFP Photo / Tolga AkmenSource:AFP

DONALD Trump sowed chaos in Europe as he demanded other NATO nations massively increase their military spending, triggering an emergency budget meeting.

The US President stoked tensions at the summit as he insisted member countries cough up, claiming the States contributes too much money to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

He said afterwards that there had been “tremendous progress” and that other members had agreed to increase their military spending after his “firm” warnings.

“Everyone in the room thanked me,” boasted the 72-year-old in a news conference at the end of the tumultuous summit in Brussels, Belgium.

Donald Trump threw the NATO summit into turmoil with fierce demands other members immediately and significantly increase military spending. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Donald Trump threw the NATO summit into turmoil with fierce demands other members immediately and significantly increase military spending. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)Source:AP
The US President’s demands triggered an emergency budget meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
The US President’s demands triggered an emergency budget meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource:AP
Mr Trump was bullish about allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Mr Trump was bullish about allies including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister Theresa May, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“I let them know I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment and now we’re very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago.”

He again called himself a “very stable genius” — repeating the phrase he coined when his mental health was questioned earlier this year — and took “total credit” for what he said was a $33 billion (A$45 billion) increase in NATO defence spending in the past 12 months.

But French president Emmanuel Macron denied any change in policy as a result of Mr Trump’s involvement, saying the allies had simply reaffirmed their earlier commitment to increase defence spending to two per cent of gross domestic product by 2024.

Other NATO leaders said they had simply told Mr Trump they were open to discussing spending increases in the future.



THE ARGUMENT

Mr Trump is angry because only the US, Britain, Estonia and Greece currently meet the two per cent target, with America spending the most at 3.5 per cent.

During a tumultuous summit, the businessman announced his desire that all 29 member nations increase spending to two per cent immediately, and eventually double that to four per cent of GDP.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was forced to call an emergency budget meeting of all the allies to deal with the staggering demand.

“All allies have heard President Trump’s message loud and clear,” Mr Stoltenberg after Mr Trump’s press conference. “We understand that this American president is very serious about defence spending, and this is having a clear impact.”

He said the allies had gone from cutting billions to adding billions to defence budgets.

Just eight countries are forecast to reach the two per cent goal this year, and 15 by 2024. But Mr Trump seemed satisfied they had agreed to meet the target soon. “Ultimately, that will be going up quite a bit higher than that,” he said.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said he “didn’t feel offended” by Mr Trump’s “straight talk” but stressed there were “budgetary constraints” and it was “not realistic to believe that we will reach 2 per cent next year.”

AT ODDS WITH THE WORLD

A source briefed on Mr Trump’s NATO talks told the New York Times the President had said that if the other countries did not meet the target by January, the US “would go it alone.”

But Mr Macron said his US counterpart had not threatened to leave, insisting: “President Trump never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw.”

While some countries are well off the two per cent target, the US gets increased global security, military support from its allies and a potential advantage in dealing with Russia and projecting power in the Middle East and Africa, according to Mr Stoltenberg.

 

Mr Trump said he was ‘extremely unhappy’ at the low contributions to military spending by other NATO nations. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Mr Trump said he was ‘extremely unhappy’ at the low contributions to military spending by other NATO nations. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource:AP
Mrs Merkel, whose nation was singled out for an attack by Mr Trump, said it had been a ‘very intense’ summit. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Mrs Merkel, whose nation was singled out for an attack by Mr Trump, said it had been a ‘very intense’ summit. Picture: Sean Gallup/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Mr Trump said his commitment to NATO was “very strong”, signing a declaration reaffirming the group’s commitments — despite the contrast with many of his stated views.

The statement reiterated the alliance’s stance on Russia, saying “aggressive actions” by the country had “reduced stability and security, increased unpredictability, and changed the security environment.”

The US President will meet Vladimir Putin for a summit in Helsinki, Finland, on Sunday, after a four-day stay in the UK, but has said he expects it to be the “easiest” part of his Europe trip.

The President singled out Germany for criticism, accusing the nation of being a “captive to Russia” because of a multibillion-dollar pipeline deal.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, said she had “experienced myself a part of Germany controlled by the Soviet Union, and I’m very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and can thus say that we can determine our own policies and make our own decisions.”

She said it had been a “very intense summit” with “very serious discussions.” She said the President had “demanded what has been discussed for months, that the burden sharing changes”, and that “we are on this path.”

Mr Trump, pictured arriving in Britain with wife Melania, boasted that the other NATO nations had agreed to his demands — but they said they had simply reaffirmed existing commitments. Picture: AFP Photo / Tolga Akmen
Mr Trump, pictured arriving in Britain with wife Melania, boasted that the other NATO nations had agreed to his demands — but they said they had simply reaffirmed existing commitments. Picture: AFP Photo / Tolga AkmenSource:AFP
 
Mr Trump pumps his fist during his arrival in Regent's Park, London, to spend the night at the residence of the US Ambassador. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Mr Trump pumps his fist during his arrival in Regent's Park, London, to spend the night at the residence of the US Ambassador. Picture: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez MonsivaisSource:AP

UK TENSIONS AND PUTIN ‘COMPETITION’

Mr Trump insisted Mr Putin was a “competitor” rather than an “enemy”, ahead of their meeting in Finland next week.

He vowed to bring up Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US presidential elections, which his campaign is accused of colluding in. But he did not rule out recognising Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Massive protests are expected over Mr Trump’s presence in the UK, with demonstrators planning to keep him awake with chants and vuvuzelas as he spends his first night at the US ambassador’s residence in London’s Regent’s Park.

The British government is gripped by a crisis over Brexit and experiencing fresh tensions with Russia after the UK blamed Moscow for the death of a woman from a Novichok nerve agent this month.

Mr Trump fuelled a fire by appearing to criticise prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit plan, after the resignation of foreign secretary Boris Johnson and her minister in charge of the EU exit, David Davis.

“The people voted to break it up (Britain’s ties with the EU),” said Mr Trump.

“So I would imagine that’s what they will do, but maybe they will take a little bit of a different route. I don’t know that is what they voted for.”

— With wires

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