WATCH: NATO leaders gather for a summit on July 11-12 amid deep divisions on trade and defense spending.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that seven out of 27 European members were on course to spend two percent of GDP on defense in 2018: Britain, Greece, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Lithuania and Romania.
"Germany, as far as I'm concerned, is captive to Russia because it's getting so much of its energy from Russia", Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in a fiery on-camera exchange that was almost without precedent in the history of the post-World War II alliance.
"We are stronger together", Stoltenberg insisted, but acknowledged that there can be differences among allies. "Because they're getting between 60 to 70% of their energy from Russian Federation and a new pipeline".
The US president appeared to be referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that would bring gas from Russian Federation to Germany's northeastern Baltic coast, bypassing Eastern European nations like Poland and Ukraine and doubling the amount of gas Russian Federation can send directly to Germany. The U.S.is projected to spend 3.5 percent of GDP on defense this year, down from 3.57 percent in 2017, while Canada is forecast to reduce such spending to 1.23 percent in 2018 from 1.36 percent.
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The NATO chief was frank about the impact of Trump's criticism on the Western allies at a broader level and he referred to non-NATO issues such as trade, where Trump is angry over the US trade deficit with the European Union.
U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped Trump avoided a repeat of his G7 summit in Quebec City, when his demands on reducing trade surpluses with the United States prompted a bitter debate with allies. "It can't be explained".
Relations between Canada and the US were dropped into the deep freeze following the imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs by the Trump administration - an action that triggered swift, sweeping tariff retaliation from the Liberal government. "Thank you to all of my great supporters, really big progress being made", Trump tweeted. The pipeline has been a source of contention for over a year, pitting the USA and a small number of Eastern European countries, including Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and others, on one side, against Russian Federation and major EU members, led by Germany, on the other.
On another front, Trump has connected the defense issue with trade, criticizing Europe for a $150 billion trade surplus (though it can also be calculated as $100 billion) and trade barriers.
"Dear America, appreciate your allies", Tusk said on Tuesday.
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Tusk also urged European NATO members to spend more on defense, but noted: "Money is important but generating solidarity is more important".
Trump's comments about the United Kingdom refer to recent chaos in Prime Minister Theresa May's government, which has been thrown into turmoil by a series of high-profile resignations by Brexit-supporting ministers. And I think you can have no doubt, Mr President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security.
"So, we're going to have a meeting on that and the secretary general has worked very hard on that, he understands the problem and hopefully we can get it resolved".
"I look forward to having words with President Trump".
Some NATO members have previously pushed back, saying the United States is also protecting its own interests by protecting its allies.
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