Trump Confronts NATO. Then Pompeo Praises It

Trump says Germany is'totally controlled by Russia at Nato summit

Donald Trump has already ruffled feathers at the Nato summit

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) looks on as US President Donald Trump speaks to other leaders as they pose for a family photo at the Park of the Cinquantenaire during the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 11, 2018.

Germany is "totally controlled by Russia" due to its Nord Stream gas pipeline deal with Moscow, U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday ahead of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels, calling the deal "inappropriate".

Of Nato's 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Latvia.

Trump's remarks on Germany and Russian Federation generated a sharply worded response from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"We have agreed to be committed to the pledge to increase the defense spending to 2 percent, let's start with that", the secretary general said.

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"Trump on Wednesday also called out Germany for "paying a little bit over 1 percent" on defense", saying that's "inappropriate also". "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025". The top USA diplomat, who once served as a tank commander in Europe patrolling the Warsaw Pact frontier, sat stoically as Trump lectured NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg over breakfast.

Trump arrived on the back of a barrage of criticism of Europe on issues ranging from trade to energy and above all his claims that the continent freeloads on the back of America for its defence.

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US taxpayers, the latest remarks fuelled concerns among allies over the USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II.

Her endorsement of the Trump-Putin meeting attempts to cut off awkward questions about Trump's commitment to Nato, an organisation he has openly and repeatedly criticised, which has dogged the ongoing Nato summit and threatened to undermine Trump's visit to London later this week. "We are one of the guarantors of the free world, and that will stay that way".

"I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union", she said.

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Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump's aspirational target of four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was above the United States' own spending on defence.

Trump's White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders confirmed the ask to reporters, claiming that it was not a new position for the US president.

The 29 allies are due to restate a commitment to try to spend two percent of GDP on defense by 2024, according to excerpts of their final summit declaration seen by AFP.

The verbal attack comes just days before he meets Russian president Vladimir Putin. "This has been going on for decades, for decades, it's disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States".

Stoltenberg estimated European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to their military spending by 2024 and said, "this is really adding some extra momentum", apparently meaning Trump's pressure.

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