Trump needs to reassure NATO that he’s not looking for a divorce

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At issue, the disparity in defense spending; Kevin Corke reports from Brussels, Belgium.

European Council President Donald Tusk said on Tuesday in a message to Trump that "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem".

Seated across the table from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Trump vented about Germany for not meeting a 2 per cent spending commitment on defense. "But despite those disagreements, I expect that we will agree on the fundamentals that we are stronger together than apart". "'And it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you'".

Speaking after the one-on-one meeting with Trump was announced, Merkel rejected his criticism of the gas pipeline project with Russian Federation. He asked Stoltenberg to explain why Berlin was getting energy from Moscow, and asserted that Germany was "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia" over a pipeline project.

Last month, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said that while U.S. politicians are accusing Europe of being dependent on Russian gas, Washington was force-feeding Europe its liquefied natural gas, which is three times more expensive than natural gas from Russia.

Just before boarding Air Force One, Trump, who repeatedly attacked the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance on Twitter on Tuesday, told reporters that his meeting with Putin "may be the easiest" he has during his trip to Europe.

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. "It can't be explained".

Trump has ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks - including in three separate tirades on Twitter on Monday and Tuesday - making the summit one of the most hard in years for the military alliance that has underpinned European security since World War II.

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- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS.

His comments were linked to the president's push for other European countries to pay more for its defence needs, in particular Germany.

Trudeau was sideswiped last month by Trump's anti-establishment behaviour when the president trashed him on Twitter hours after the G7 summit in Quebec, calling him "very dishonest and weak".

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.

Speaking to a cheering crowd at a rally this week, Trump told them that the United States would no longer be "the schmucks paying for the whole thing". "Let's make sure that we're living up to our expectations and obligations, '" Gardner said.

"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 USA ambassador to Belgium. "I am very happy that today we are united in freedom. and that we can therefore also say that we conduct independent policies and can take independent decisions".

He also repeated misleading statements about which countries are meeting the alliance's Defense Investment Pledge, in which each member state is expected to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, and about when those falling short are expected to meet that goal.

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