Trump claims North Atlantic Treaty Organisation victory after ultimatum to go it alone

George Pyle: Dear Europe, Some of us know what NATO is

President Donald Trump reiterated the USA commitment to NATO Thursday after a contentious meeting in which he said allies agreed to raise defense spending by $33 billion amid his reported threats to withdraw.

"For years presidents have been coming to these meetings and have talked about the tremendous expense to the U.S., and tremendous progress has been made", Mr Trump said.

"We took in $33 billion more", Trump said, pointing to increased financial commitments.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later told reporters, "All allies have heard President Trump's message loud and clear". Trump spent his final hours at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation meeting in Brussels bludgeoning other leaders but got little in the way of concrete results.

Before arriving a half hour late to the final day of meetings on Thursday, Trump tweeted that "the USA pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe", that Germany's oil and gas pipeline with Russian Federation is "not acceptable", and that allies must not only all reach the 2 percent defense spending guideline, but double that to 4 percent.

On Thursday, Trump reiterated his criticism of NATO in a tweet, stating, "Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russian Federation". Trump: "The additional money that they're willing to put up has been really incredible ... "

Asked about pressures on countries with weaker finances, he said, "We have many wealthy countries with us today but we have some that aren't so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment, and could I help them out, and we will help them out a little bit", he told a news conference.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called an emergency session of all 29 allies to address Trump's demands, and the USA leader said his hectoring had paid off.

He complained the United States "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe" and demanded that member nations reach their goal to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, which "must ultimately go to 4%!" But whenever he's met him, that they've got - whenever they have met, they have gotten along really well.

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President Donald Trump has used NATO's 2 percent target for members' defense spending to argue that the US gets a bad deal from allies. "And I know that's valued very highly over here and people can disagree strongly and still go out to dinner".

"I think we will be able to", he said. He seemed to suggest a speeded-up timeline, saying nations would be "spending at a much faster clip", which if it panned out would mark a significant milestone for the alliance.

Trump also singled out Germany and its chancellor Angela Merkel for criticism, a day after saying Berlin had become a "captive of Russia" because of a gas pipeline deal and should be paying more for defense.

He also said he thought spending of 4 percent on defence - similar to the United States level - would be the right level.

Trump then held an impromptu press conference.

And Mr Conte said: "Italy has inherited spending commitments that we haven't changed". As to whether he could unilaterally pull the US out of the alliance without congressional approval, Trump said, "I think I probably can, but that's not necessary".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Trump's statement marked an escalation of a US campaign to talk down Russian gas supplies to Europe in an attempt to push the USA energy sector instead.

That would represent a massive upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe where Germany and many others have pledged only to reach 2 percent by 2024 or later, the report noted.

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