Rattling NATO, Trump attacks another nation's ties to Russian Federation

From left German Chancellor Angela Merkel Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg US President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend the opening ceremony of the Nato summit in Brussels

Not only did Trump demand on Twitter on Thursday that countries meet the 2% level by this year, not 2024, but he also said all countries should eventually hit 4%, which is more than even the U.S. now spends.

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump said. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russian Federation where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russian Federation.

"I think we should first get to 2 percent, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that", NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg told reporters, without speaking directly to Trump's comments.

Mr Trump's main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defence budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defence by 2024.

The US president accused Germany of only spending "a little bit over 1 percent" of its economic output on defence compared to the 4.2 percent spent by the US "in actual numbers".

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

"These two people are very different, very interestingly different".

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He then set the tone for the day with a blistering attack on key ally Germany at a breakfast meeting with Nato's Stoltenberg . So I think the secretary-general likes Trump .

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Back in the U.S., Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump's "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany", as "an embarrassment".

Trump's criticism involved countries he said are not spending enough on their own defenses in exchange for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation protection. "So I think that's inappropriate also", Trump claimed.

Macron and Putin talk regularly on the phone and have hosted each other for summit meetings in the past year, but they have found little common ground on issues such as the Syrian civil war and conflict in Ukraine.

Trump, interjecting, asked why that was - and Stoltenberg responded it was "because of your leadership and your message". The president is also not the first leader to point to the impact of Nord Stream 2 on Europe, echoing complaints from Eastern European allies who note it would cut out transit countries such as Poland and Ukraine. "Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions". Energy exports represent Russia's main source of revenue, and Trump argues that the pipeline undermines NATO's objective, as it's created to counter Russian aggression.

"He was in a good mood, he said Europe was a continent he appreciated", Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters.

Mr Trump made more conciliatory remarks on Wednesday after he and Mrs Merkel met on the sidelines of the Brussels summit, saying defence spending and trade had been discussed.

Brussels is the first leg of a weeklong European tour that will include stops in London and Scotland, as well as a highly anticipated meeting next week with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

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