Trump lashes out at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies calling for increase in defence spending

Since becoming president of the US Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised NATO allies over funding

Since becoming president of the US Donald Trump has repeatedly criticised NATO allies over funding

Moreover, Stoltenberg argued Wednesday that the US 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.

US President Donald Trump informally proposed members spend 4% of GDP up from 2%.

On a trip that will also take Trump to Britain and to Helsinki to meet Russia's Vladimir Putin, the president spent the first day of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit lambasting allies for failing to spend the targeted 2 percent of GDP on defence and accused Germany of being a prisoner to Russian energy.

A White House spokeswoman said his remarks came as he was urging leaders to increase their outlays on defence and were not a formal proposal.

The Brussels meeting comes less than a week before Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, reviving concerns among United States allies over his proximity to the Russian president.

Mr Trump is due to hold his first summit with Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki, on 16 July.

TRUMP: "Because of me, they've raised about $40 billion over the previous year." - remarks about NATO-member spending on defense at breakfast with Stoltenberg.

"This has gone on for many presidents".

Stoltenberg agreed there should be more done to prompt allies to invest more in their defense.

Germany presently spends about 1.2 percent on defense.

Trump's comment that Germany was controlled by Russian Federation earned a rebuke from Berlin.

In his statement posted on Twitter, Kerry said Trump's broadside against an American ally had weakened the United States. "This has been brought up by other presidents". They're getting so much of the oil and gas from Russian Federation.

The former Reagan national security official says the terms of the Baltic Sea gas pipeline deal must be closely monitored.

German officials deny that the controversial Nord Stream pipeline will allow Russian Federation to exert undue influence over their country. "How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the person you want protection against or from the group that you want protection against?"

Mrs Merkel told reporters: "I am very happy that today we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany".

Raising concerns he may eventually withdraw from NATO, Trump added that Europe's borders were "bad". "We look forward to the meeting you're going to have with President Putin. He may be the only one, but that's okay with me", he told reporters as the summit began.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel - who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in communist East Germany - shot back at Trump. "We can't put up with it and it's inappropriate".

Merkel has given political backing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to import more gas, despite criticism from other European Union governments.

MARTIN: The - notably, Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, had his own reply to all these criticisms from Trump.

"We are investing heavily in the German armed forces and other European countries too, because the armed forces need it".

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