US president says Europeans caved in to defence spending demands, but they deny it.
Nato’s European leaders were left reeling after one of the most divisive summits in the organisation’s 69-year history, at which Donald Trump set a January deadline for them to increase defence spending and hinted that the US might quit the alliance if they failed to meet it.
While other Nato members treated his warnings as a bluff, they left the Brussels summit stunned at the end of two days of mayhem, almost all of it orchestrated by Trump.
Donald Trump is right. Nato is a costly white elephant
In the final hours he again reduced the 29-member organisation, the most powerful military coalition in the world, to chaos. He turned up late for a meeting, ignored the issues on the table, demanded fresh talks and secured an emergency discussion on spending.
Afterwards, at a hastily convened press conference, Trump claimed he had emerged victorious, saying European leaders had caved in to his demands – something both the French and Germans later denied.
He said they had agreed to reach the Nato target of spending 2% of GDP on defence faster than previously planned, and he claimed financial commitments would increase beyond that in the future.
“I can you tell you that Nato now is a really a fine-tuned machine. People are paying money that they never paid before. They’re happy to do it. And the United States is being treated much more fairly,” he said.
But other European leaders, in particular the French president, Emmanuel Macron, flatly contradicted this, saying no extra rises had been agreed beyond those set out in a Nato communique published on Wednesday, which contained only a vague timetable of promises, basically the same as those that existed before the summit started.
“There is a communique that was published yesterday. It’s very detailed,” Macron said. “It confirms the goal of 2% by 2024. That’s all.”
More at The Guardian