Trump asks North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies to double military spending target to 4%

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

As per The Hill, President Trump has attacked EU ahead of the summit, while alleging that the Europeans have taken advantage of the USA on trade issues while failing to invest enough into their own defense for years.

This comes after President Trump blasted Germany for being "captive" to Russian Federation over the multi-billion dollar gas pipeline - called Nord Stream 2. "We're supposed to protect you against Russian Federation but they're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation and I think that's very inappropriate".

Trump asserted that a pipeline project has made Germany "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia".

Drawing on her own background, German Chancellor Angela Merkel pushed back sharply, insisting that Germany makes its own decisions.

"We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries".

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he thinks the president is "right about Germany buying gas from the Russians, that's counterproductive".

He added: "Not fair to the US taxpayer".

Other leaders have also been trickling in, and continue to arrive after Trump.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor".

"Now is not the time" to be alienating allies, he said.

Mr Trump clashed with Mrs Merkel ahead of the summit.

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.

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Trump and Merkel met later Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit and kept their remarks polite during a photo opportunity with the press.

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, echoed Trump's rhetoric, telling Fox Business Network that "Germany is a tremendous problem, both for Europe itself, and for the United States in this sense". Asked if they had discussed the pipeline, he said, "Yes", but declined to elaborate. "It's really extraordinary that Donald Trump has to be the person to point out that the emperor in Europe has no clothes".

He also renewed a demand that they even double that - though many question what they could usefully spend it on. "I have great confidence they'll be spending more".

American officials say the U.S.is itself short of that mark, spending 3.3 percent of its GDP on defense.

That's not how the spending works.

Trump earlier told alliance leaders they should raise their defense spending to 4 percent of their gross domestic product, or GDP.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation estimates that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by 2024 based on current trends.

A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron said Trump had voiced his "personal attachment" to Europe and gave "rather positive and constructive messages" to his allies. He also called Brussels a "hell hole" and "a mess".

Stoltenberg agreed there should be more done to prompt allies to invest more in their defense.

A year ago saw the biggest increase in defence spending in a generation, he said. "He may be the only one, but that's OK with me".

Mr Trump, who landed in Belgium during the middle of the football-mad nation's World Cup semi-final match, will later head to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

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