Trump says North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members agreed to meet spending commitments

John Kerry has a lot of thoughts on Donald Trump's combative NATO comments

John Kerry has a lot of thoughts on Donald Trump's combative NATO comments

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune, who also traveled to Russian Federation, said Trump should be prepared for complete denials and well-rehearsed answers when he meets with Putin in Finland's capital.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to spend enough of their money on defense, accusing Europe of freeloading off the USA and raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defense if they were ever attacked.

But with tensions in the Western alliance smouldering over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on USA taxpayers, his earlier remarks fuelled concerns among allies for the United States role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War II.

"They are going to up it to levels like they have never thought it before", the president 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.

"NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy security".

Moreover, Stoltenberg argued Wednesday that the USA military presence in Europe, through the 29-country alliance, gives it an advantage in dealing with Russian Federation and projecting power in the Middle East and Africa.

Over the two days of talks, Trump assailed leaders of the 70-year-old partnership, saying they weren't paying their fair share for defense and complaining that the United States wasn't getting any benefits from the billions of dollars it spends protecting Europe.

Tweeting after a day of meetings on Wednesday, Mr Trump called on member nations to immediately boost spending.

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

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"I believe through strength you get peace", he said.

"I myself experienced that a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany", Merkel said.

The contradiction between a man anxious to wreck shop in the Western world and the shrinking violet that was about to meet Putin was striking.

In fact, the 29 members each pay a portion of NATO's annual US$3-billion operating budget based on the size of their economies. I think that's a real possibility, ' he said.

"It will be over a relatively short period of years", Trump said.

According to the latest North Atlantic Treaty Organisation estimates, Germany spends 1.24 percent of GDP on defense, while the USA spends 3.5 percent.

He also said that he has hope for what the allies can do to marginalize Putin, even if Trump refuses to.

The spike in tensions comes as President Trump is preparing for his first-ever summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, in less than a week, sparking worry among allies.

The United States and Canada swung sharply on Sunday (10 June) toward a diplomatic and trade crisis as top White House advisers lashed out at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a day after US President Trump called him "very dishonest and weak".

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