Trump Declares NATO Victory With Spending Commitments From Allies
By VOA News July 12, 2018
U.S. President Donald Trump declared victory Thursday as the NATO summit ended, saying he had won commitments from other countries to increase their defense spending after he had complained that Washington for too long has borne the brunt of financing the West's key military alliance.
"They have substantially upped their commitment and now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO,'' Trump told reporters shortly before leaving Brussels for London to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth.
The U.S. leader gave no specifics on which countries had agreed to increase defense spending, but said several countries had cumulatively boosted defense spending by $33 billion in the last year.
"Everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment," Trump said. "They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before."
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there was "a new sense of urgency" to increase military funding and credited Trump with "having an impact."
However, French President Emmanuel Macron said none of NATO's 29 member states had agreed to increase funding beyond the previously set target of 2 percent of the size of their national economies by 2024.
Trump said, "Some are at 2 percent, others have agreed definitely to go to 2 percent.'' A day earlier, he suggested that NATO allies commit to spending 4 percent of their gross domestic product in the next six years. "Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening," he said.Currently 5 of the NATO countries meet the 2 percent defense spending goal.
He said the United States was being treated very unfairly in providing for the nearly seven-decade alliance, claiming that Washington was shouldering anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the burden of supporting NATO, which he said was unfair to U.S. taxpayers.
But as the summit ended, Trump declared, "I believe in NATO. The United States' commitment to NATO remains very strong."
Trump said he could withdraw the United States from NATO without congressional approval, but said "that's unnecessary" after the funding commitments from the alliance members. "There was a great collegial spirit in that room...very unified, very strong."
Macron said that while Trump attacked European allies' diminished military spending in relation to the U.S. and suggested the United States could "go it alone" without NATO, he "never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO."
"NATO is now a fine-tuned machine," Trump boasted.
From the start of the two-day summit Wednesday, Trump had demanded that NATO members boost their defense spending.During a breakfast meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump accused Germany of being a "captive" of Russia for allowing Russian energy company Gazprom to construct the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea to provide natural gas to Germany.
The president's demands in Thursday's closed-door meeting mirrored comments he made hours earlier on Twitter:"Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia," he wrote.
In Britain, thousands of anti-Trump protesters are waiting to demonstrate against the U.S. leader, with a blimp depicting a baby Trump flying overhead. He arrived as British leader May suddenly finds herself embroiled in domestic political upheaval stemming from intra-Tory disagreement over terms for the country's exit from the European Union, known as Brexit.
Trump's itinerary, however, will largely keep him out of central London, where most of the protests are expected.
After visits to England and Scotland, where the president owns two golf resorts, Trump will go to Helsinki for Monday's highly anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"He's not my enemy and hopefully someday he'll be a friend," Trump told reporters when asked about Putin, whom he referred to as a "competitor."
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