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Trump lashes Germany over gas pipeline deal, calls it Russia's 'captive'

11 Juillet 2018

President Trump will be in Europe this week to meet with world leaders - allies and adversaries alike - to discuss pivotal agenda items for American, NATO, and global stability interests.

In a stunning public dressing-down of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, President Trump fired off criticisms of the alliance, reiterating his complaint that it is not paying enough for defense and singling out a German oil-and-gas pipeline deal with Russian Federation.

Overall, NATO members will spend an average 2.40 percent of GDP on defense this year compared with 2.42 percent in 2017, the alliance said.

Sitting at the table with the president were Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Trump defended his public reprimanding of allied countries over their defense spending.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he hoped Trump avoided a repeat of his G7 summit in Quebec City, when his demands on reducing trade surpluses with the United States prompted a bitter debate with allies.

"So I think the secretary-general likes Trump".

With tensions in the Western defense alliance already running high over Trump's demands for more contributions to ease the burden on USA taxpayers, and a nationalistic stance that has seen trade disputes threaten economic growth in Europe, the latest remarks will fuel concerns among allies over the US role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.

"I look forward to having words with President Trump".

"Dear America, appreciate your allies-after all, you don't have that many".

The comment did little to reassure allies fretting over his potential embrace of a Russian leader that USA intelligence officials accuse of meddling in the 2016 elections to help Mr Trump win. "And dear Europe, spend more on your defense", he said.

In recent months Trump has repeatedly launched invective at America´s partners in the Atlantic alliance, a cornerstone of European security since World War II, accusing them of freeloading on the USA for defense.

Brussels is the first stop of Trump's week-long European tour that will include a visit to Britain and a meeting in Finland with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And I have Putin.

"Despite disagreements, I expect that we will agree on the fundamentals that we are stronger together than apart", he said.

The 1.5 percent level forecast for NATO's European members in 2018 compares to 1.46 percent a year ago, 1.44 percent in 2016 and 1.42 percent in 2015. "Just doesn't work!" he tweeted as he arrived in Brussels late on Tuesday.

"The alliance can rely on the United Kingdom to lead by example, not just in meeting the 2 per cent pledge but by contributing our cutting edge capabilities to operations around the world".

The NATO summit is also being attended by leaders of so-called NATO partner states that are not members of the alliance.

He said he expected North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders to agree to invite Skopje to start accession talks as a result of a "historic agreement on the name issue" between Greece and Macedonia.

Stoltenberg said he expected a "open and frank" debate about defence spending at the summit but tried to play down the differences opening up between allies.

Trump lashes Germany over gas pipeline deal, calls it Russia's 'captive'