North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence spending hike: Trump claims victory, Macron disagrees

Lester Mason
July 12, 2018

Donald Trump has backed down over threats to pull the U.S. out of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after other leaders agreed to increase defence spending "like they never have before".

Some NATO allies had not exactly heard the same conclusions as Trump around the table, and French President Emmanuel Macron immediately poured cold water on Trump's spending ambitions for other allies.

Speaking in Brussels, he told reporters: "Yesterday, I let them know I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment". But added that the talks had ended on the best of terms. "It was a little tough for a little while".

President Macron said: "There is a communique that was published yesterday".

Several diplomats and officials said, however, that his undiplomatic intervention - including pointing at other leaders and addressing Merkel as "you, Angela" - had irritated many. Although Trump administration officials point to the longstanding alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump's itinerary in England will largely keep him out of central London, the centre of the protests.

Mr. Macron too said Mr. Trump "never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO".

People present said he had earlier warned he would "go it alone" if allies, notably Germany, did not make vast increases in their defense budgets for next year.

Trump emerged declaring his continued commitment to a Western alliance built on US military might that has stood up to Moscow since World War Two. Allies would be increasing spending by $33 billion or more, he added. He also said he thought spending of 4% on defence - similar to the US level - would be the right level. Citing the alliance's Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, he said: "Secretary Stoltenberg gives us total credit, meaning me, I guess, in this case, total credit. Because I said it was unfair".

"Some are at 2 per cent, others have agreed definitely to go to 2 per cent, and some are going back to get the approval, and which they will get to go to 2 per cent", he said. "Everybody in that room got along and they agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly".

Ms. Merkel said: "We had a very intense summit".

Trump had spent his time in Brussels berating members of the military alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defence, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence if they were attacked.

Trump also says he is "not happy about Crimea".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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