Trump urges Nato allies to spend 4% of GDP on military defence

The second day of the Nato summit will focus on the conflict in Afghanistan 

The first day of the Nato Summit left many confused after Trump urged allies to use 4% of GDP on defence (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)
The first day of the Nato Summit left many confused after Trump urged allies to use 4% of GDP on defence (Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

Donald Trump urged Nato allies to commit 4% of their annual output (GDP) to military spending, leaving the opening day of the Nato summit in disarray.

The American president surprised allies by demanding members to raise their defence spending up by 2%, and clashed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over a proposed pipeline deal with Russia.

Allies were unsure whether Trump was serious the 4% target, double the existing Nato target of 2% which many do not meet.

The White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, confirmed the 4% figure. “During the president’s remarks today at the Nato summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to 4%,” she said.

On the second day of the summit, the leaders are to turn their attention to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Nato leaders are now hoping for a more conciliatory tone on Thursday before Trump leaves for the UK.

But in a late-night tweet from Brussels, the US president reiterated his criticism.

"Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn't nearly enough," he declared.

Trump’s demand over defence spending came during a meeting at which leaders discussed “burden-sharing”.

According to Bulgarian president Rumen Radev, Trump raised the issue of the increase in defence spending and “he just left after he announced that”.

He also accused Germany of being held prisoner to imported Russian energy, claiming it is "totally controlled" by Moscow.

Before heading off for dinner, Trump tweeted: “What good is Nato if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The US is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

According to newly published Nato figures, countries that meet or exceed that 2% target are: the US on 3.6%, Greece on 2.2%, Estonia 2.14%, the UK 2.10%, and Poland on 2%. France spends 1.8% and Germany 1.2%.

 

On Thursday, Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani will be present for the second day of talks, and Nato's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg hopes the bloc will agree to fund Afghan security forces until 2024.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has already confirmed that the UK will send 440 more troops to serve in non-combat roles in Afghanistan.

The US also committed an extra 3,000 troops to support Afghan forces in September 2017 - bringing its total to 15,000.

What else is on the agenda?

Nato leaders will discuss the alliance's ties with Georgia and Ukraine. Both countries want to join Nato, but their bids are not expected to make progress.

That is because Russia has engaged in territorial incursions into both states, and Nato rules prevent countries with a land conflict from joining.

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