Trump slams Russia's 'captive' Germany over gas deal ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

Trump slams Russia's 'captive' Germany over gas deal ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

And he called alliance members "delinquent" on their contributions to NATO's budget.

Trump's dramatic exchange with Stoltenberg set the tone for what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance as Trump presses jittery North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies about their military spending ahead of his meeting next week with Putin. Sitting at the table with the president were Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison, Trump defended his public reprimanding of allied countries over their defense spending.

In his statement posted on Twitter, Kerry said Trump's broadside against an American ally had weakened the United States.

The president's startling tirade against Germany early on Wednesday included suggestions that the country's support for Nord Stream 2, a pipeline project that would bring gas from Russian Federation to Germany, was a security threat to Europe. But here's the rub: Many of those free rider countries are on track to up their spending to the required 2%, and oh by the way, the US doesn't even spend 4%. "But Germany is totally controlled by Russia", Trump declared.

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".

"Yes, I think Trump has a point in that defence expenditure is a burden predominately carried by the U.S. The U.S. carries the load", Colin Robertson, a former top diplomat and the vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said in an interview with CBC News. "So we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries and then numerous of these countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia", Trump said.

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Trump's aides seated around the table, including chief of staff John Kelly and the USA ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, looked visibly uncomfortable at points.

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. But at the bilateral meeting he exulted: "We have a very, very good relationship with the Chancellor. That is very good, especially for people in eastern Germany". "They have to step it up immediately", Trump said. "Ultimately, Germany will have nearly 70 percent of their country controlled by Russian Federation with natural gas", Trump continued.

Currently, NATO members are encouraged to put a target of 2% of their economic output to the Organization's budget, but the 2% figure is only a guideline.

Merkel replied by pointing out that Germany is one of the largest contributors of troops for NATO's missions.

But Trump's increasingly vitriolic tone on those issues, plus his criticism of Merkel's migration policies and his decisions to pull out of agreements dear to Germany like the deal meant to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and the Paris climate accord, have many questioning what comes next.

Trump said that "many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back". "I think they're very important to have those exchanges together".

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