Trump arrives in Brussels ahead of potentially contentious North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Trump arrives in Brussels ahead of potentially contentious North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Mr Trump wasted no time in repeating his demands for European allies and Canada to spend more on defence, saying Germany should do so immediately.

But NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg pointed out that military spending had been rising in Europe since 2014 and members were making efforts to meet the objective, particularly Germany, which is often singled out by Trump for criticism.

He vowed not to be "taken advantage" of by the European Union, which he accuses of freeloading by relying on the United States for its defense while blocking U.S. imports into the bloc, the world's biggest market. "I want to compliment the secretary general, he's worked very hard on this problem".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation estimates suggest that European members and Canada will add $266 billion (Dh977bn) in defence spending between now and 2024, the target year for all members to reach the threshold, according to Mr Stoltenberg.

Trump alarmed allies during a visit to Brussels previous year when he did not specifically mention USA backing for Article 5, but aides said later that United States support was assumed and did not have to be mentioned.

"Frankly Putin might be easiest of them all". The two are due to meet in Helsinki on July 16 following Mr Trump's visit to the United Kingdom at the end of the week.

"European troops have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers in Afghanistan; 870 fearless men and women sacrificed their lives, including 40 soldiers from my homeland, Poland", said Mr. Tusk. "Who would think?" he told reporters.

Before taking off on Air Force One, he tweeted: "Getting ready to leave for Europe".

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With tensions in the Western defense alliance already running high over Trump's demands for more contributions to ease the burden on US 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 USA role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.

Despite that, U.S. officials told Reuters news agency the president was expected to reaffirm USA support for Article 5 of the Nato treaty, which states that an attack against one ally is considered an attack on all members.

His 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.

Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn, he said that Britain was in "turmoil" after two high-profile resignations over Brexit and that it was "certainly going to be an interesting time with Nato".

The alliance says that 15 members, or just over half, will meet the benchmark by that year, based on current trends. "And dear Europe, spend more on your defence, because everyone respects an ally that is well prepared and equipped".

Italy's new populist government lines up squarely with Mr. Trump on a range of issues, including a firm stance to stop the mass immigration that is vexing Europe.

Last month, the United States raised fears of a trade war by slapping tariffs on steel and aluminium from the EU, Canada, Mexico and other USA allies.

Mr Trump weighed in on British politics too, calling the United Kingdom "in somewhat turmoil" before describing Boris Johnson as a "friend of mine". And I think you can have no doubt, Mr President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security.

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