Wednesday. 7:50 am: Trump arrives at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation headquarters for talks

Flake's advice to Trump on Putin meeting

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels Thomson Reuters BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said his efforts had pushed other NATO countries to contribute more to the Western defense alliance but it was still not enough to offset the burden on U.S. taxpayers.

"We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia", Trump said in the presence of reporters at a pre-summit meeting at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium.

"I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10-year period, but they have to step it up immediately", Trump said, pointing to Germany in particular as a "rich country" that "could increase (defense spending) immediately tomorrow and have no problem".

At a news conference on Tuesday, Stoltenberg thanked Trump for his leadership in pushing member states toward the goal of spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense, while the US spends closer to 3.5 percent.

And with that, he went on to push allies at the summit to double their commitment on defense spending.

Trump's pipeline criticism was an unusual line of attack for a president who has appeared eager to improve relations with Putin and dismissed the US intelligence community's assessment that Russian Federation tried to undermine Western democracy by meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election to help Trump win.

Back in the U.S., Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer issued a joint statement describing Trump's "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies, Germany", as "an embarrassment".

Despite Trump's claims about Germany, Merkel served as a forceful advocate for imposing - and maintaining - sanctions on Russian Federation after it annexed Crimea in 2014, arguing that it violated the principles of the global order established after World War II. "They are a very strong people".

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.

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There were, and still are, allegations Putin had helped Trump get elected. " President Trump spent most of his life not working on foreign policy".


"But other presidents never did anything about it because I don't think they'd up it or wanted to get involved", Trump said.

However, his comment that "Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline" appeared to mis-state German energy use - about 20 percent of which is accounted for by oil and gas imports from Russia.

Despite Trump's claims about Germany, Merkel served as a forceful advocate for imposing - and maintaining - sanctions on Russian Federation after it annexed Crimea in 2014, arguing that it violated the principles of the global order established after World War II. She also noted that European members don't only get help from the United States and Canada.

After a face-to-face meeting with Merkel later, Trump said the gas pipeline came up but seemed to shift his tone.

Merkel, for her part, called the two nations "good partners" and said "we wish to continue to cooperate in the future".

Trump is scheduled to meet Merkel at the summit later Wednesday, where White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, speaking to reporter, said she expected the president to reiterate his concerns over the pipeline deal. But the two appeared on good terms, with Trump joking about the fact that Macron had been asked about it. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of their oil and gas from Russian Federation.

The U.S. Senate voted 97-2 on Tuesday to reaffirm American support for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. "The U.S. presence in Europe helps to protect Europe but it also helps the United States project power to the Middle East, to Africa". "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025".

While Germany has not yet met that goal, it has until 2024 to do so.

Brussels is the first leg of a weeklong European tour that will include stops in London and Scotland, as well as a highly anticipated meeting next week with Putin.

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