During an impromptu press conference held shortly before he's planned to depart Brussels before heading to the UK, President Trump affirmed that the US's allies in NATO had committed to "substantially up" their defense spending "to levels they have never thought of before." Trump praised the meeting, saying that though it got off to a rough start, Trump and his fellow NATO leaders had made "tremendous progress".
"NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago," Trump said.
"NATO is now a fine tuned machine," Trump said, emphasizing the importance of "burden sharing." Trump added that the US's commitment to NATO "remains very strong" and that it would be "unnecessary" for the US to walk away from the alliance, as he had threatened to do.
While the US shouldering much of the financial burden has been "unfair," Trump praised his partners, saying "Germany is coming along," though "we need to figure out what is happening with the pipeline" - a reference to the Nord Stream 2 energy pipeline from Russia, which has been an object of criticism from Trump during this year's conference.
Trump praised the "great collegial spirit" before reiterating a phrase from earlier this year - telling reporters that he's "a very stable genius."
Speaking to reporters after the emergency meeting, Trump said, "I told people that I'd be very unhappy if they didn't up their financial commitments substantially."
Turning to the subject of his upcoming meeting with Putin, Trump said that some NATO allies had thanked him for his outreach to Putin. On the subject of Crimea, Trump once again blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, saying "that wouldn't have happened on my watch." As for his relationship with Putin, Trump said the Russian president is a "competitor" but that he hoped one day Putin might become "a friend."
Ahead of the pressers, Trump told NATO leaders that if they did not meet their defense spending targets of 2 percent of gross domestic product by January, the United States would go it alone, according to two officials briefed on the meeting.
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Update: Headlines are rolling in...
- *TRUMP SAYS U.S.'S NATO ALLIES ARE RAISING DEFENSE SPENDING
- *TRUMP SAYS U.S. COMMITMENT TO NATO REMAINS VERY STRONG
- *TRUMP: NATO MEMBERS HAVE `REALLY STEPPED UP' DEFENSE SPENDING
- *TRUMP SAYS HE WOULD BE `VERY UNHAPPY' IF ALLIES DON'T PAY MORE
- *TRUMP SAYS HE WAS `EXTREMELY UNHAPPY' YESTERDAY
- *TRUMP SAYS NATO BETTER OFF TODAY THAN TWO DAYS AGO
- *TRUMP SAYS `VERY HAPPY' WITH WHAT GERMANY AGREED TO
- *TRUMP SAYS HE WAS `VERY FIRM' WITH NATO ALLIES YESTERDAY
- *TRUMP:KEY NATO TASK IS FOR ALLIES TO SPEND 2% OF GDP ON DEFENSE
- *TRUMP SAYS UNNECESSARY TO WITHDRAW U.S. FROM NATO
- *TRUMP CITES `GREAT COLLEGIAL SPIRIT' AT NATO SUMMIT
- *TRUMP SAYS NATO `PROBABLY THE GREATEST EVER DONE', `FINE-TUNED'
- *TRUMP SAYS HE'S A 'VERY STABLE GENIUS'
- *TRUMP SAYS PUTIN `MAY DENY' MEDDLING IN U.S. ELECTIONS
- *TRUMP SAYS HE'LL ASK PUTIN ABOUT `MEDDLING'
- *TRUMP: U.S. ALLIES' MILITARY BUDGETS UP `LIKE A ROCKET SHIP'
- *TRUMP SAYS NATO ALLIES THANKED HIM FOR PLAN TO MEET PUTIN
- *TRUMP SAYS HE'S NOT HAPPY ABOUT CRIMEA
- *TRUMP SAYS PUTIN IS A "COMPETITOR"
- *TRUMP SAYS NATO MEETING `WAS A LITTLE TOUGH FOR A LITTLE WHILE'
- *TRUMP SAYS HE HAS NO MESSAGE ON BREXIT
- *TRUMP SAYS HE HAS `GREAT RESPECT' FOR HIS CHINESE COUNTERPART
- *TRUMP SAYS IRAN TREATING U.S. WITH `MUCH MORE RESPECT' NOW
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President Trump is holding an impromptu press conference in Brussels while his fellow NATO leaders are gathered in an unplanned emergency session. The conference is happening amid reports that Trump threatened to pull the US out of NATO.
The speech comes after Trump made a big deal about money and demanded last night that allies meet the 2% threshold immediately, and not by 2024. He has also floated the idea of ‘going it alone’ if allies don’t comply, something which he has said before but he can’t really do without an -- unlikely-- Congress approval.
Finally, he has also suggested the idea of raising the threshold to 4% throwing the summit into turmoil, in much the same way he did at the Group of Seven in Canada.
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