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Trump blasts North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ahead of European visit

Trump blasts North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ahead of European visit

Asked in June if the United States would recognise Crimea as part of Russia, Trump said: "We're going to have to see".

And German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed Germany was already working to increase its spending before Trump's push.

At NATO, Trump pressed his recurring complaint that European allies aren't paying enough toward the common defense of the alliance. And I have Putin.

The Nato member countries are recommended to spend two per cent of their respective GDP on defence but most do not and that is something which has irked Trump.

"Yes, we need to take care of the poverty and challenges we have at home, each of us - but we also need to look at what we do to alleviate stress, tensions, misery around the world, because if we don't, the trend lines we'll be on as a world will leave us all poorer, poorer off".

Despite the first day's haranguing of allies for failing to meet spending targets and accusing Germany of being a prisoner to Russian energy, Trump was mild-mannered at a private dinner on Wednesday and avoided any outbursts that many North Atlantic Treaty Organisation diplomats had feared.

Taking numerous questions from the global press corps, Trump offered a preview of his meeting Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who he described as "a competitor". There are no official events scheduled for his time here, though U.S. Ambassador to Britain Woody Johnson said the president would "spend some time preparing for Helsinki", USA Today reported.

Although Trump administration officials point to the longstanding alliance between the United States and the United Kingdom, Trump's itinerary in England will largely keep him out of central London, the center of the protests. Germany and other European NATO partners argue, however, that they have boosted their contributions to the military alliance and plan to kick in more in coming years.

The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 prompted a partial drawdown of USA forces from Europe, but every administration since then has concluded that keeping a US military presence there was important for wider US security, political and economic interests, and as a sign of solidarity with Europe.

With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on United States taxpayers, the latest remarks fueled concerns among allies over the United States role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.

"I'll tell NATO: 'You've got to start paying your bills, '" Trump pledged at a rally last week in Montana in which he bemoaned that Americans were "the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing". "They will be getting between 60 and 70 percent of their energy from Russian Federation and a new pipeline, and you tell me if that is appropriate because I think it's not", Trump said, before criticizing Berlin's failure to significantly increase defense spending. Finally, he will head to Helsinki for a summit with Putin. "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have all that many".

"The best-case scenario is that it's just rhetoric", the European official said of Trump's comments about a U.S. willingness to maintain its commitment to Europe. Merkel was not present at Trump's breakfast with Stoltenberg. The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election to boost Trump's candidacy, and warns of further attempts at interference both in the 2018 midterms and in European elections.

In the run-up to his trip, the president did little to ease European concerns by delivering fresh broadsides against NATO, an intergovernmental military alliance of 29 North American and European countries aimed at countering possible Russian aggression.

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch also took issue with Trump, saying "I don't agree with that". Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions.

Trump's decision to impose the steel tariffs created more distance.

President Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, center, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, stand for a photo during the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday. He added that if Trump is warmer toward Putin than the leaders of the military alliance that was founded to protect Europe from Soviet threats, it would go "a long way to undermining NATO, undermining the trans-Atlantic relationship, undermining our relationship with our allies".

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.


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