Trump Calls Germany 'Captive of Russia'; Merkel Recalls Occupation

Donald Trump takes the fight to NATO

Donald Trump takes the fight to NATO

"He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 per cent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 per cent", Sarah Sanders told reporters.

Despite the harsh criticism of the president, Kerry agreed that United States allies need to increase their defense spending. "I have to bring it up because it's unfair to our country or our taxpayers". The gas pipeline mirrors the Nord Stream route going through exclusive economic zones and territorial waters of five countries - Russia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany.

Trump had begun the day by attacking Merkel's government, accusing Germany of becoming "captive" to Russian interests through overreliance on its gas exports. Then, as president, came his repeated criticism of the German export surplus with a focus on its popular vehicle brands like Mercedes, BMW and Volkswagen, and the accusation Berlin is shirking its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation obligations by spending too little on defense.

Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, also chastised "free riders" for failing to spend a long-held target of two per cent of their national gross domestic products on the military. "I just don't want us to be too friendly with them like he was with Kim Jong Un, although I supported that summit", Richardson said.

The US president said Berlin was a "captive to Russia" as a result of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline being constructed between Germany and Russian Federation.

During moments that were visible to the press, Trump often separated himself from most of his counterparts, particularly those with whom he has had public disagreements, such as British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canada's Justin Trudeau. She added that as a person born in East Germany, which was subordinate to Moscow in major decisions, the current situation is much better.

Trump told reporters the two had a "very, very good relationship" and congratulated Merkel on her "tremendous success".

"Germany is a captive of Russia", President Trump said at a breakfast hosted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"The fact that a Putin-Trump meeting will happen says only one thing: that for all its hysteria, the United States is not able to isolate or ignore Russia", said Alexei Pushkov, a prominent Russian senator from the ruling United Russia party.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel called for "fair play" and more respect for multilateralism.

And he said: "Dear America, appreciate your allies - after all you don't have that many".

Trump's continued downplaying of Russian election interference has also deviated from broader global attitudes.

An agreement to reopen talks would allow both sides to argue that they are tackling a major issue, a result analysts said might appeal to both leaders' egos, while leaving it to lower-level officials to grapple with the nitty gritty.

That doesn't mean there haven't been ups and downs over the decades - seen dramatically after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA when more than 200,000 Germans took to the streets of Berlin to show their solidarity with the US, only to give way a year later to massive demonstrations against the American march toward the invasion of Iraq.

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