Published: Thu, July 12, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Trump Walks Back NATO Threats, Takes 'Total Credit' For Spending Boost

"But they're feeling a lot of pain right now", Trump said.

Trump ignored the first question, but on the second question, he said, "I think I can".

"They are going to up it to levels like they have never though it before, " he said. The at 3.5 percent, or $685 billion a year ago.

Trump seemed to change his tune about North Atlantic Treaty Organisation over the past two days, saying that it is now a "fine-tuned machine", claiming that he got members to agree to increase their defense spending.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, alleging that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation.

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"How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against?" Earlier this year, Stoltenberg said the country's "dangerous behavior" included "the illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea, the destabilization of eastern Ukraine, meddling in democratic processes, cyberattacks, and disinformation". Trump and Merkel later held businesslike talks on the sidelines of the summit. And "they have pledged to spend more". He said the USA commitment to the 29-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization remains very strong and cited "the additional money they will be putting up" and "the level of spirit in that room" during the meetings.

At breakfast he had spoken of Germany as a "captive" of Russian Federation because of the two countries' energy relationship, which he labelled "inappropriate".

(From L to R, first row) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May attend the opening ceremony at the 2018 NATO Summit at NATO headquarters on July 11, 2018 in Brussels, Belgium.

And he vowed not to be "taken advantage" of by the European Union, which he accuses of freeloading by relying on the United States for its defence while restricting U.S. imports into the bloc, the world's biggest market.

The unexpected demand from Trump during a closed-door meeting of heads of state laid down a new, virtually unachievable marker for a peacetime military spending in an alliance already struggling to meet current defense spending commitments.

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Still, Trump has been more conciliatory behind the scenes, including at a leaders' dinner Wednesday.

It followed an uncomfortable first round at the summit where anxious Western allies were subjected to the USA president's "America first" approach.

May's government is in turmoil over how to exit the European Union following the Brexit vote.

"Because we understand that when we stand together, also in dealing with Russian Federation, we are stronger", Stoltenberg said.

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, where significant protests are expected.

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The meeting brought together Mr Trump and Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau, who irritated the USA president at the G7 by declaring that his country would not be pushed around.

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