North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies vow to meet spending targets after Trump criticism

From left German Chancellor Angela Merkel Belgium's Prime Minister Charles Michel NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg US President Donald Trump and Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attend the opening ceremony of the Nato summit in Brussels

He later called on the alliance's members to increase their gross domestic product (GDP) spending on defense from a commitment of 2 percent to 4 percent, though the USA spent only 3.6 percent of its GDP on defense previous year.

He says the US "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe" and is demanding members meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

With scorching language, Mr. Trump questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression, tweeting after a day of contentious meetings: "What good is North Atlantic Treaty Organisation if Germany is paying Russian Federation billions of dollars for gas and energy?" "We're supposed to protect you against Russian Federation but they're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation and I think that's very inappropriate".

Mr Stoltenberg declined to answer a specific question about Mr Trump's remarks, but told reporters: "I think we should first get to 2 percent, focus on that now. the good thing is that we are moving to that".

It followed an uncomfortable first round at the summit where anxious Western allies were subjected to the USA president's "America first" approach.

"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor".

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".

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French President Emmanuel Macron said the summit atmosphere was "much calmer than everyone had said" and he saw a will to maintain the unity of the alliance, while Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said Trump was "constructive". "So I think that's inappropriate also", Trump claimed.

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel pose for a photograph prior to a bilateral meeting on the eve of the G-20 summit in Hamburg, northern Germany, Thursday, July 6, 2017. "It's disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States", Trump said, adding that he is eager to change the situation.

The U.S. president has taken an aggressive tone during the summit, questioning the value of an alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and calling for a massive increase in European defense spending.

"The United States is paying far too much and other countries are not paying enough, especially some".

Peter Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, echoed Trump's rhetoric, telling Fox Business Network that "Germany is a tremendous problem, both for Europe itself, and for the United States in this sense".

Trump had "very direct language" but "when it comes to the core message we actually all agree", Stoltenberg later said.

Trump's next stop will be London, where he'll be meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

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