LONDON: US President Donald Trump shocked allies at a fraught NATO summit on Wednesday by suddenly demanding that members double their defence spending commitments.
Trump’s surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a “captive” of Russia because of its gas links and singling out Berlin for failing to pay its way.
The summit in Brussels is shaping up as the alliance’s most difficult in years, against a backdrop of deepening transatlantic tensions in fields ranging from trade to energy and defence.
NATO allies agreed at their Wales summit in 2014 to try to spend two percent of GDP on defence within 10 years, but the White House said Trump suggested that was not enough.
“During the president’s remarks today at the NATO summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of two percent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to four percent,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.
“The president raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year. President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev confirmed that Trump had made the demand and asked what it meant for the future of the alliance that has been the bedrock of European security for 70 years.
“NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy security. NATO is an alliance of sovereign countries united by strategic targets and common values,” he told reporters.