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Posted at: Jul 13, 2018, 1:36 AM; last updated: Jul 13, 2018, 1:36 AM (IST)

Trump claims NATO victory after ‘go it alone’ ultimatum

Tells European allies to increase spending or lose US support
Trump claims NATO victory after ‘go it alone’ ultimatum
US President Donald Trump and US First Lady Melania Trump are greeted by a guard of honour at Stansted Airport, London. Reuters

BRUSSELS, July 12

Donald Trump claimed a personal victory at a NATO summit on Thursday after telling European allies to increase spending or lose Washington’s support, an ultimatum that forced leaders to huddle in a crisis session with the US President. Trump emerged declaring his continued commitment to a Western alliance built on US military might that has stood up to Moscow since World War Two.

People present said he had earlier warned he would “go it alone” if allies, notably Germany, did not make vast increases in their defence budgets for next year.

“I let them know that I was extremely unhappy,” he said, but added that the talks ended on the best of terms: “It all came together at the end. It was a little tough for a little while.” 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the summit “very intense”, and other leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, played down the extent to which they had pledged to accelerate spending plans as fast as Trump wanted.

Macron and others said they did not interpret Trump’s words as a direct threat to quit the alliance Washington founded in 1949 to contain Soviet expansion. Trump, asked if he thought he could withdraw from NATO without backing from Congress, said he believed he could but it was “unnecessary”. Others say Congressional approval would be required—and would be unlikely to be forthcoming.

Trump hailed a personal victory for his own strategy in complaining loudly that NATO budgets were unfair to US taxpayers, and the emergence of what he said was a warm consensus around him.

Several diplomats, however, said his undiplomatic intervention, including pointing at other leaders and addressing Merkel as “you, Angela”, had irritated many. — Reuters


Spending targets

  • NATO members have committed to spending at least 2% of their national income on defence by 2024, though the terms allow for stretching that in some cases to 2030
  • The United States, far the biggest economy, spent 3.6% last year, while Germany, the second biggest, paid out just 1.2% and only a handful of countries met the 2% target.
  • Trump said he wanted them all to hit that target by January, prompting consternation. Many have already settled their 2019 budgets and the sums involved are immense
Trump arrives in London on his maiden visit 

  • Trump arrived in London on Thursday on his maiden visit to the UK during which he will hold bilateral talks with British PM Theresa May over closer post-Brexit ties, amid mass protests planned around Britain
  • Trump’s visit to the UK, the 12th US President to make such a tour, comes amid what he described as “turmoil” for the UK government, as Prime Minister May faces down rebellion from within her own party over her Brexit strategy
  • The visit is seen as crucial at setting the course for a closer trading relationship between the two countries. Along with trade and security links, Downing Street has said the Brexit and the Middle East will also be on table

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