Global News

Trump once again proclaims himself a 'very stable genius'

Trump once again proclaims himself a 'very stable genius'

Two officials at the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Brussels say the alliance is meeting in an emergency session amid demands from U.S. President Donald Trump for all members to spend 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence.

Breaking from a carefully scripted session that was to focus on Ukraine and Georgia, one source said Trump "forcibly restated" his position on the deadline for the 2 percent spending target.

Trump: "They really stepped up their commitment ... stepped it up an additional 33 billion ... "

Members agreed in 2014 to increase their spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic product in 10 years, but it was unclear what they agreed to in Brussels.

Then US president Barack Obama said at a press conference at the Wales summit the alliance would "reverse the decline of defence spending and rise to meet the challenges that we face in the 21st century".

But Macron disputed Trump's claims, saying that the joint statement the leaders had signed went no further than what had previously been agreed, apart from setting out how some countries plan to get there. But, several sources said, Trump instead reopened in strong terms his demand that other countries spend more immediately.

Trump also singled out Germany over its low-levels of defense spending - it now spends 1.24 percent of its GDP on defense - and renewed his criticism of a controversial gas pipeline deal between Germany and Russian Federation made a day earlier. "It has been really incredible to see the level of spirit in that room". Reuters reported Trump had not threatened to quit the Alliance but had harshly rebuked his partners. "There is a great collegial atmosphere in that room, that I don't think they've had for many years".

"On atmospherics, the whole oxygen was sucked out by tweets and the theatrics of President Trump".




German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the summit "very intense", and other leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, played down the extent to which they had pledged to accelerate spending plans as fast as Trump wanted.

"I let them know that I was extremely unhappy", he said, adding that it all worked out. Hopefully, someday, maybe he'll be a friend.

With allies fearing he could strike some sort of deal with NATO's key adversary, Trump said that he saw Putin as a "competitor" but not an "enemy".

On spending, he said "we are stepping up as never before, allowing U.S. spending to go down", and there was a "new sense of urgency due to president Trump's strong leadership on defence spending".

The emergency session came amid reports that Trump had threatened to leave the pact if allies didn't immediately up their spending.

The U.S. president has taken an aggressive tone during the summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and calling for a massive increase in European defense spending.

The US leader has specifically singled out Germany for criticism over its defence spending.

But at the end of the summit, Stoltenberg said the figure was $41 billion, and was contained in a paper published before the summit, which suggests that no new money was going to be committed. "All I can do is say "Did you?' and 'Don't do it again" - but he may deny it".


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