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Trump arrives in Brussels ahead of potentially contentious North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit
11 July 2018, 03:58 | Devin Moran
President Trump on the phone in the Oval Office on Jan. 29 2017
Mr Trump, in a message to Germany, asked why the U.S. should "protect you against Russia" when the two countries were making deals.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said Germany was independent in its policy choices, in a pointed response to Trump saying Berlin was a "totally controlled by Russian Federation".
"Germany is captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia", Mr Trump said. The U.S.is projected to spend 3.5 percent of GDP on defense this year, down from 3.57 percent in 2017, while Canada is forecast to reduce such spending to 1.23 percent in 2018 from 1.36 percent.
The dramatic exchange set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance.
President Trump is expected in Brussels again to berate North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members who - unlike Britain - do not meet the alliance target of spending at least 2 per cent of GDP on defence, and some fear he will order scaling-down of American military involvement in Europe.
"We are investing heavily in the German armed forces and other European countries too, because the armed forces need it".
Still, the administration official said, Trump would likely reiterate United States support for the NATO treaty's Article 5, a provision that means an attack against one ally is considered an attack against all of them.
Still they're trying, mostly, to be hospitable this week. "I've said that many times for many years".
The White House announced the meeting, saying there would be no media coverage allowed. She said Germany could make "independent decisions".
But NATO diplomats say only two-thirds of the 28 allies, excluding the United States, have a realistic plan to hit that level by then.
European officials say while USA defence spending makes up 70 percent of combined allied governments' military budgets, just 15 percent of U.S. expenditure is spent in Europe on NATO-related defence.
European Council President Donald Tusk addressed Trump's criticism, telling the U.S. President to "appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many", at an E.U. He also called Brussels a "hell hole" and "a mess". Following an awkward Group of Seven meeting in Quebec last month, Trump abruptly withdrew support from an economic agreement and unleashed a string of attacks against Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, distressing longtime American allies.
In a bid to avoid a row, Stoltenberg replied: "Nato is an alliance of 29 nations and there are sometimes differences..."
This year, the United States will spend about $36 billion directly on defending Europe, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank.
Trump interjected, asking Stoltenberg why he thought that had happened.
Trump, interjecting, asked why that was - and Stoltenberg responded it was "because of your leadership and your message".
"I'm going to tell NATO: You've got to start paying your bills. He may be the only one, but that's OK with me".
Trump's continued downplaying of Russian election interference has also deviated from broader global attitudes. The verbal attack comes just days before he meets Russian president Vladimir Putin.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen hit back at Trump's truculent remarks: "We have a lot of issues with Russian Federation without any doubt", she told reporters in English.
Tusk issued a stern warning to Trump Tuesday as he signed a joint statement on cooperation between the European Union and NATO, "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many".
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