Trump Continues to Hammer NATO Nations on Defense Spending

French President Emmanuel Macron celebrates Umtiti opener in St. Petersburg semi-final

At the end of the first session of a two-day summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the aim first was to reach 2 percent, but moments later Trump tweeted that allies were undercutting the U.S. on trade and needed to immediately boost spending.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders will try on Thursday to move beyond the demands of Donald Trump, the U.S. president, for higher defence spending, and focus on ending the long war in Afghanistan, in the second day of a summit in Brussels underscored by transatlantic tensions.

"And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia", Trump said.

Of Nato's 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Latvia. "The U.S.is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them", Mr Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.

Mr Stoltenberg declined to answer a specific question about Mr Trump's remarks, but told reporters: "I think we should first get to 2 percent, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that".

During the president's remarks, he suggested countries not only meet their minimum commitment of 2 percent but increase it to 4 percent, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary said in a statement.

The meeting will come a day before Putin sits down with US President Donald Trump in Helsinki for the first bilateral summit between the two leaders. "They are a very strong people".

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Just a day ahead of the gathering, EU Council President Donald Tusk said that Trump should "acknowledge" its allies since "you do not have that many".

Mrs Merkel told reporters: "I am very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany".

"Many countries are not paying what they should, and, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back", Trump said at a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

"This has been going on for decades and it is disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States and we're going to make it fair".

The US intelligence community has concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election to boost Mr Trump's candidacy, and warns of further attempts at interference both in the 2018 midterms and in European elections. The United States pays about 67 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, more than any other nation, although only 3.5 percent is NATO-related.

Trump, interjecting, asked why that was - and Stoltenberg responded it was "because of your leadership and your message". Larsen has written to Trump about how this fixation on the two per cent commitment demonstrates a willful misrepresentation of both NATO's mission and how it is funded.

Trump's next stop will be London, where he'll be meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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