Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump begins North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit with Nord Stream 2 attack

Trump begins North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit with Nord Stream 2 attack

Trump's dramatic exchange with Stoltenberg set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance as Trump presses jittery North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies about their military spending ahead of his meeting next week with Putin.

"Trump at NATO Summit: It's not just bad, it's a catastrophe", the influential Sueddeutsche Zeitung headlined its story online.

Seemingly intent on hazing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Trump brought up a gas pipeline under construction between Russia and Germany, which could make Western Europe more dependent on Russian energy supplies and which previous administrations have objected to.

"Many countries (in NATO) owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them".

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Germany is not a captive of anyone, neither Russian Federation nor the US, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in response to US President Donald Trump's description of his country as a "captive" of Russian Federation.

While NATO members increased overall defense spending in 2017, for a second consecutive year, the United States was still largely outspending all other members. There isn't a penalty for not meeting it, but Trump has repeatedly castigated Germany in particular for not spending enough, in his view, on defense.

Mr Stoltenberg later said that Mr Trump had a "direct language and message on defence spending" but insisted that "we fundamentally all agree" that the burden of defence spending should be shared. So you tell me, is that appropriate? As the pair met alongside the main summit, Trump confirmed he had brought up the issue of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russian Federation and Germany.

"When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia", Trump said to Stoltenberg. "Nor is the USA spending more because allies are spending less. our defense spending is a national decision and is determined by our national security and defense needs". "I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10-year period, but immediately".

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For U.S. President Donald Trump, a summit with Vladimir Putin risks a political backlash at home and overseas.

"I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union", she said of her youth in Communist East Germany. "This has been going on for decades, for decades, it's disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States".

Even Stoltenberg - a mild-mannered former Norwegian Prime Minister who has cultivated a positive relationship with Trump - appeared reduced to spluttering as Trump cut him off after he started to explain that allies traded with Russian Federation even during the Cold War. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government will increase spending to 1.5% of GDP by 2024.

At the same time, despite his criticism of the pipeline and its links to Russia, Trump has been noncommittal in recent comments about whether he might lift USA sanctions on Russia, and told reporters he'd "have to see" whether the US might recognize Crimea to be part of Russia.

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