Published On: Thu, Jul 12th, 2018

Trump Urges Nato Members To Double Military Funding Target

US President Donald Trump has urged Nato allies to commit 4% of their annual output (GDP) to military spending – double the current target.

Trump urges Nato members

The White House confirmed he had made the remarks during the Western military alliance’s summit in Brussels.

The meeting also saw Mr Trump single out Germany for criticism over its defence spending.

Nato’s secretary-general said the main focus should be on all members reaching the current target of 2% of GDP.

Jens Stoltenberg declined to answer a specific question about Mr Trump’s remarks, but told reporters: “I think we should first get to 2%, focus on that now… the good thing is that we are moving to that.”

For decades after the end of the Cold War, he said, Nato countries had cut defence budgets as tensions fell – and now needed to increase them at a time when tensions were rising.

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Previous US presidents have urged Europe to take more responsibility for their defence and reduce the burden on US taxpayers of maintaining forces in Europe long after the end of the Cold War – but none as bluntly as Mr Trump.

Confirming the Mr Trump’s comments, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said: “President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

The Brussels meeting comes less than a week before Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among US allies over his proximity to the Russian president.

What is the spending row about?

Mr Trump’s main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defence budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defence by 2024.

Of Nato’s 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the UK and Latvia.

The communique also condemned “Russian aggression”, including the annexation of Crimea, the use of a nerve agent in southern England and “election interference”.

Our correspondent adds that some European diplomats worry he will not, harbouring a suspicion that Mr Trump’s commitment to the multilateral institutions which buttress the liberal world order is only skin deep.

Mrs Merkel has responded by comparing German independence now with the time when she grew up in the former East Germany, a satellite of the then Soviet Union.

Mrs Merkel told reporters: “I am very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions.”