President Donald Trump started the NATO summit Wednesday with criticism, saying certain Western nations need to spend more on defense calling Germany a “captive” of Russia.
Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Belgium Tuesday for the summit ahead of meetings with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain and Vladimir Putin in Russia.
“Many countries are not paying what they should, and, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money from many years back,” Trump said at a breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “They’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.”
Trump criticized Germany over dependence on natural gas from Russia. The United States spends heavily to defend Germany from Russia, he said, while Germany is paying “billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia.”
“I think it’s something that NATO has to look at,” Trump added.
Stoltenberg said despite differences, NATO aims “to protect and defend each other.”
“How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the country you want protection against?” Trump asked.
Stoltenberg said NATO, despite some differences of opinion among member states, is getting stronger.
“A strong NATO is good for Europe and it’s also good for the United States,” he told Trump. “We look forward to the meeting you’re going to have with President Putin. And I think that leaders are also looking forward to your thoughts about the meeting with President Putin later on.”
Trump leaves for London Thursday for a state dinner and visit with May, and later Queen Elizabeth II. From there, he travels to Moscow for Monday’s summit with the Kremlin leader. He will return to Washington, D.C., early Tuesday.
This article provided by NewsEdge.