EU President to Trump: 'Appreciate Your Allies' as 'You Don't Have Many'

Donald and Melania Trump

The US president has been openly critical of many of NATO's practices, often railing against Washington spending more money on defence than other member states.

While Mr Trump is looking to improve relations with Russian Federation, there has been alarm at the deteriorating climate with his allies in Europe and what he might agree to with President Putin.

Mr Trump has linked the issue of USA military spending to the EU's trade surplus with the U.S., complaining that the bloc "makes it impossible for our farmers and workers and companies to do business in Europe" and then "want us to happily defend them through Nato". The US should not have to pay the biggest share of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defence expenditure while Germany paid just over 1% of GDP.

The US president took to lambasting allies on social media and claiming his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be his "easiest" leg of the diplomatic tour. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. "Who would think", the president said. It added: "The combined wealth of the non-US Allies, measured in GDP, exceeds that of the United States".

The meeting of 29 Western leaders has the potential to descend into another public bust-up following a divisive and bad-tempered summit of G7 nations in Canada last month.

European officials have expressed hopes that member states can paper over their differences, but European Union President Donald Tusk delivered a blunt message to the U.S. leader on Tuesday.

This week's two-day summit, beginning on Wednesday at Nato's new headquarters in the Belgian capital, is expected to be dominated by U.S. demands for increased spending by other members of the 29-nation alliance. "Europeans spend on defense many times more than Russia and as much as China, and I think you can have no doubt, Mr. President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security, which cannot be said with confidence about Russian or Chinese spending".

"Germany is a captive of Russia", Trump said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, his first since arriving in the Belgian capital. Trump set the stage for clashes at the summit by writing to around a dozen allies to berate them for lagging on a 2014 pledge to try to spend two percent of GDP on defence by 2024.

"He chews out the allies then embraces the adversary", one diplomat told AFP recently.

"I would like to address President Trump directly who for a long time now has been criticizing Europe nearly daily", the former Polish prime minister told a press conference.

But it adds that they will also "submit credible national plans on its implementation" in language that will perhaps please the United States president.

And he added: "NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS".

Looking for signs that the president remained committed to the alliance, Mr Stoltenberg pointed to a rise in American presence in Europe as well as a spending increase of 40 per cent on defence in Europe since the USA president's inauguration.

While all eyes will be on what Trump does and says at the summit, there are some agreements that have been hashed out beforehand and are expected to get leaders' approval.

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