Trump Says He Expects to 'Get Along' With Putin at Summit

Donald Trump takes the fight to NATO

As well as Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Charles Michel, the prime minister of Belgium, were singled out by Trump for undershooting on their spending targets when US taxpayers, funding a defence budget worth about 3.6 percent of their national income, foot much of NATO's bills. Then, in a head-snapping pivot at the end, on Thursday he declared the alliance a "fine-tuned machine" that had acceded to his demands to speed up increases in military spending. Demonstrators say that hundreds of thousands of people are planning to take to the streets tonight and tomorrow, and are planning to float a giant balloon caricature of Trump outside Parliament.

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin next week in Helsinki in what Trump characterized Thursday as a "loose meeting", adding that "we'll see where it leads".

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg opened proceedings in Brussels with a clear message: This year's summit would focus on who's paying the bill, or in NATO terms, burden-sharing.

"There's a great, very collegial spirit in that room", he told reporters.

In 2017, the alliance saw its biggest increase in defense spending "in a generation", he said, signaling to his aggrieved ally in the White House that "we see that all Allies have started to increase defense spending based on the national plans we have agreed to develop past year".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries in 2014 committed to spending 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense by 2024, but North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has estimated that only 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on current trends. "The Alliance can rely on the United Kingdom to lead by example".

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"The NATO leaders weren't really expecting this". Trump said Germany was "captive" to Russian Federation, citing an energy pipeline, and used the summit to repeat calls for allies to increase their defense spending. "I'm very strong on immigration". The current commitment is to reach two percent by 2024 but with get-out terms that would allow some to stretch it out to 2030.

"They are going to up it to levels like they have never though it before", he said.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defence, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defence if they were ever attacked. "It's very detailed", Macron said, according to the AP.

Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump on Wednesday also 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.

In a tweet today after a day of meetings, in which he lashed out at allies for insufficient defense spending, Trump calls on member nations to immediately boost spending.

"And frankly maybe everyone is going to have a good relationship with Russian Federation".

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