President Trump pats a world leader on the back as he makes his way to his seat for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council during a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels on July 11, 2018.
Though the insult will hardly engender warmth from German chancellor Angela Merkel, who Trump is due to meet later today, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen seemed relatively unperturbed.
"We are having a great meeting, we are discussing military expenditure and we are talking about trade". "My mother's family, for example, was divided by the building of the Wall", she said in remarks upon receiving the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
Dr. Claudia Major, a researcher at the German Institute for International Security affairs, said that Germany, in particular, does more for the alliance than spend on its own defense, including deploying troops to Afghanistan, "and eventually, two percent is an arbitrary measurement that does not say much about efficiency and output".
Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in "very direct language" but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO's resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.
He complained the United States "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe" and demanded that members of the military alliance meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense, which "must ultimately go to 4%!"
Under fire for his warm embrace of Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russian Federation, declaring Wednesday that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russian Federation. Germany has increased very substantially what it is doing.
Amid reports that he had threatened to pull out of the alliance due to the dispute, Mr Trump said the USA had a strong commitment.
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But Trump's claim that the U.S.is spending 4.2 percent of GDP is at odds with the Pentagon, which puts it at 3.3 percent.
"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor".
He also said that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki next week would be the "easiest" of the meetings he'll have while he's overseas. We have a fundamental disagreements on principles and objectives between Trump and the Europeans.
Trump's demand jolted the transatlantic alliance at the conclusion of this week's Brussels summit and, in the words of one diplomat briefed on the events, sent "everyone into a tailspin".
The president is facing backlash for his repeated criticism of alliance members in contrast to his apparently friendly rhetoric toward Russian Federation and its president, Vladimir Putin.
'Their tariffs on our autos are four times higher in their defense spending is one fourth of what ours is and Germany is the wealthiest country in Europe, spending on defense is much less than most of other countries, ' he said.
Trump's next stop will be London, where he'll be meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.