BRUSSELS: US President Donald Trump said NATO countries had agreed to increase their defence spending after he forced crisis talks over his mounting demands at a fractious summit in Brussels, reports AFP.
Trump said there had been “tremendous progress” after his “firm” warnings during the tense two-day meeting in Brussels, during which he singled out Germany for special criticism.“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,” Trump said in a freewheeling press conference.
“Tremendous progress has been made, everyone’s agreed to substantially up their commitment they’re going to up it at levels they’ve never thought of before. It’s been amazing to see the level of spirit in that room.”
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has cosied up to Trump despite their wide political differences, said NATO was “much stronger” after the summit.
Trump threw the summit into turmoil by demanding not only that allies reach their commitment to increase spending to two percent of GDP “immediately”—instead of by 2024 as previously agreed—but also telling them to eventually double the figure to a punishing four percent.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency session of all 29 allies to address Trump’s demands, and the US leader said his hectoring had paid off.
“The commitment was at two percent and that’ll be going up quite a bit higher than that,” he said.After an opening day of summit talks marked by clashes between Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO leaders had hoped to focus on policy on Ukraine and Afghanistan.
But just days out from a high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, the mercurial US leader threatened to throw the transatlantic alliance into disarray.
With allies fearing he could strike some sort of deal with NATO’s key adversary, Trump said that he saw Putin as a “competitor” but not an “enemy”.