Monday, 18 February, 2019

Trump claims win after threatening to quit North Atlantic Treaty Organisation during tumultuous summit

NATO leaders gathered GETTYThe leaders of the 29 NATO countries have gathered in Brussels today
Ginger Lawrence | 13 July, 2018, 13:39

On day two he stated that the United States' commitment to the alliance remains "very strong".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders held an unplanned emergency meeting at a Brussels summit Thursday after Trump told allies to immediately increase their defense spending, diplomatic sources said.

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. Other NATO leaders disputed the claim. Russian Federation is far from happy to see a US-led military alliance encroaching on its border.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte also echoed Macron and dismissed Trump's claim about a spending hike.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump landed at Stansted Airport, 40 miles northeast of the British capital Thursday afternoon local time. He and first lady Melania Trump will also have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.

However Trump had already taken the credit for an additional rise in spending, saying "for years presidents have been coming and talked about" the plan, but since he became president "we are doing numbers like they've never been done before".

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

"Many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back, where they're delinquent as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them". "And then today and yesterday, I was probably a little bit more firm".

His criticism softened during the 35-minute news conference Thursday.

Before leaving on Thursday for a visit to the United Kingdom, Trump called US commitment to the alliance "very strong", and referred to the two-day summit as "fantastic" characterized by "a great collegial spirit". Trump: "The additional money that they're willing to put up has been really unbelievable ... "

PM Theresa May unveils Britain's soft Brexit blueprint, but banks cut loose
Effectively staying in the single market for goods, but not services, is unlikely to be an attractive proposition for the EU. Trump also said he doesn't feel welcome in London - and he blames that in part on the city's mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Officials said that non-members of the alliance had been asked to leave the room early Thursday and that everyone in the room had been told to leave their phones outside.

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

Trump insisted that he would bring up key subjects including Syria, although he once again failed to rule out recognising Russia's annexation of Crimea.

"So that was on Barack Obama's watch".

Trump said he wanted "peace all over the world, that's my goal", and he wanted to achieve this by building up the military, with his dream to have the best military equipment in the world and never have to use it. "I think he has done a bad job on crime, if you look, all of the terrible things going on there, with all of the crime that is being brought in".

The drama in Brussels on Thursday was all about Trump's desire to make noise for his political base, Sloat said.

Earlier Thursday, he repeated his complaint that the United States carries a trade deficit with the European Union even as those countries rely on US aid to pay for their defense.

Trump also sought to claim a victory in his news conference on Wednesday, defending his the hard-nose tactics he displayed at the summit, which included accusing Germany of being "totally controlled" and "a captive of Russian Federation". "They pay only a fraction of their cost".

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia, and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump said in the presence of reporters.

John Fritze reported from Washington.