North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members keep wary eye on Trump's mood

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit

Ahead of his trip to Europe, where he will attend NATO's annual summit before heading to the United Kingdom and then flying to Helsinki for a sit-down with Putin, Trump said the meeting with Putin "may be the easiest" on his trip.

Germany is extremely reliant on Russian gas, and the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, which Germany approved in March, will only increase its dependence. Ms. Merkel has been considerably tougher on Russian President Vladimir Putin than Mr. Trump has; unlike the US president, she has never suggested acceptance of Russia's forcible annexation of Crimea.

"Many countries are not paying what they should, and, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back", Trump said at a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Since the start of his campaign for president more than three years ago, Trump has been accused by critics of taking a more favorable stance toward Russian Federation, a traditional rival to US power, than the United States' allies.

While on his way to the summit, Trump fired off a series of confrontational tweets accusing his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies of stiffing the USA by not paying their fair share to contribute to NATO's budget, and lamenting the trade imbalance between the United States and the European Union.

"Explain that", Trump said.

NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg later told reporters that Trump had used "very direct language" but that all NATO allies were agreed that the cost of defence spending must be spread around and that a year ago had seen the biggest increase in a generation.

Canada only contributed 1.29% of its GDP, while Germany - which has drawn criticism from President Trump - spent 1.24% of its GDP on defense past year. But Mr. Trump's claim that Germany is "a captive of Russia" is manifestly false.

"Many countries are not paying what they should", Trump said. He also alluded to "other countries" with trade barriers against the his criticism.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that "NATO is indispensable".

Not all are on track to meet the 2 percent pledge, and Germany is particularly remiss, though it has beefed up spending by billions of dollars.

"We are stronger together", Stoltenberg insisted, but acknowledged that there can be differences among allies. Corker's foreign relations committee also voted for a pro-NATO measure on Wednesday.

She recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said she was "very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany".

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