Donald Trump says NATO members will ‘substantially’ increase defence spending

Click to play video: 'Trump says U.S. commitment to NATO ‘remains strong’ despite spending concerns' Trump says U.S. commitment to NATO ‘remains strong’ despite spending concerns
WATCH ABOVE: Trump says U.S. commitment to NATO 'remains strong' despite spending concerns – Jul 12, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump said NATO members have agreed to substantially increase spending on their own defence.

Speaking at a media conference after the NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, Trump said his commitment to the decades-old military alliance “remains very strong,” adding allies had made unprecedented commitments to increase spending “beyond two per cent.”

READ MORE: Trump’s body language at NATO speaks volumes about frosty relations with allies

The president added he would have been “very unhappy” if other NATO members didn’t up their financial commitments.

Many NATO members were already working to increase their defence spending in recent years. The current commitment is to reach two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2024 but with get-out terms that would allow some to stretch it out to 2030.

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Trump said he thought spending of four per cent of GDP on defence — similar to the U.S. level — would be the right level.

His media conference comes after NATO held an emergency meeting with 29 alliance leaders on Thursday morning

Trump described the meeting as”fantastic” and members having “a great collegial spirit.”

“NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago,” Trump said. “It all came together at the end.”

Officials at the meeting said Trump broke with diplomatic protocol by addressing German Chancellor Angela Merkel by her first name, telling her: “Angela, you need to do something about this.” Most officials and the invited leaders of non-NATO Afghanistan and Georgia were ushered out.

FACT CHECK: Donald Trump says countries owe U.S. money for NATO spending

In a series of tweets before the meeting, Trump said: “Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia.”

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He complained the United States “pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe” and demanded that member nations meet their pledge to spend two per cent of GDP on defence, which “must ultimately go to 4%!”

Trump has taken an aggressive tone during the NATO summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defence spending.

— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

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