Trump stuns North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with demand to double defence spending

US President Donald Trump addresses an event at the White House in Washington last month

- A senior European Union official lashed out Tuesday at President Donald Trump, lambasting the US leader's constant criticism of European allies and urging him to remember who his friends are when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin next week.

Trump said: "If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russian Federation".

But Trump's comments about many countries not paying their way in the alliance in exchange for the USA umbrella has put many leaders on the back foot.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced hours after the tit-for-tat over Germany that Trump would meet later Wednesday with Merkel, as well as with French President Emmanuel Macron.

But unlike his recent tweets in which he berated allies, Trump struck a more affable tone in person before boarding his flight, remarking that "we will work it out and all countries will be happy".

Buoyed by what he considered to be his achievements at NATO, Trump also previewed his plans for his meeting with Putin. "The United States is not going to take care of everything". Estimated 2017 defense spending as a percentage of gross domestic product was 1.2 percent in Germany, Europe's biggest economy.

Trump flew to Europe Tuesday for a week-long trip.

While Trump went after Germany for its ties to Russian Federation, he himself has been accused by critics of being too eager to improve relations with Moscow. "Explain that. And it can't be explained", he said.

Merkel has given political backing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to import more gas, despite criticism from other European Union governments.

Nikonov said Trump was now strong enough to pursue his own agenda. And here's the thing, we know, reports from yesterday actually, that 18 months ago, shortly after Donald Trump was inaugurated, during his first meeting with Angela Merkel, he straight up told her when they first sat down together that she owed him a trillion dollars.

A stoic Merkel responded, "I am pleased to have this opportunity to be here for this exchange of views".

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National Cave Rescue Mission coordinator Anmar Mirza yesterday told CBS News it would be hard to recreate the story as a movie. Two days before the first four boys were rescued , officials warned that oxygen levels with in the cave had fallen to 15%.

While nobody on either side expects big breakthroughs, including on USA sanctions, the summit is seen by Moscow as US recognition of Russia's status as a great power and an overdue US realization that its interests must be taken into account.

After the two-day summit in Brussels, Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.

But with tensions in the alliance smouldering over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel, his earlier comments fuelled concerns about the US role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two. The Senate resolution passed 97-2. But those moments were more perfunctory than Stoltenberg's chattier introductions with other leaders, many of whom Stoltenberg was seeing for the first time that day after he had spent part of the morning hosting Trump. "But let me say a couple things".

"NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been".

Democrats, however, called Trump's insults of Germany an "embarassment".

But experts say the United States can not force any allies into spending more, no matter how much the president balks. Charles Schumer of NY.

While Mr Trump is looking to improve relations with Russian Federation, there has been alarm at the deteriorating climate with his allies in Europe and what he might agree to with President Putin.

Trump and Merkel later held businesslike talks on the sidelines.

That complaint is a misrepresentation of the 2014 agreement reached at a summit in Wales. NATO acknowledges an "over-reliance" on the U.S. What NATO partners dispute is Trump's repeated suggestion that the U.S. gets little in return for its commitment to defend member countries if threatened. There was no provision made for making up deficiencies in past years.

"I'm going to tell NATO, 'You got to start paying your bills, '" Trump said at a rally last week in Montana. Two percent represents the amount each country aims to spend on its own defense, not some kind of direct payment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or the U.S. Greece has blocked the accession process over the name issue because many Greeks identify as Macedonians.

The alliance also committed to leave the door open for other countries to join eventually - if they agree to certain political reforms.

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