Trump lashes out at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies calling for increase in defence spending

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Trump is due to meet Putin on Monday in Helsinki.

The suggestion was made behind closed doors at a gathering that's shaping up into a fight on several fronts, with Trump accusing Germany of being a "captive" to Russian Federation over its support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. The vast undersea pipeline is opposed by the USA and some other European Union members, who warn it could give Moscow greater leverage over Western Europe.

The Senate on Wednesday voted to keep President Trump's authority in check when it comes to imposing "national security" tariffs.

Trump has spent weeks berating members of the alliance for failing to increase military spending, accusing Europe of freeloading off the US and even raising doubts about whether he would come to members' defense as required if they were ever attacked.

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Trump began his first and only full day in Belgium at a breakfast with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"When Germany makes a massive oil and gas deal with Russia", Trump said to Stoltenberg.

While Democratic congressional leaders condemned Trump's attacks on Germany as "brazen insults and denigration of one of America's most steadfast allies", Republicans took a more benign view, and some backed him outright.

"Germany is the largest economy in the EU". The gas pipeline from Russian Federation to Germany is one issue where allies disagree. It was not a "commitment" or a payment owed to the USA, and not something that alliance members pledged to achieve immediately. It's expected to be online at the end of 2019. "Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem", Trump said.

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"We have a very, very good relationship with the Chancellor", Trump said.

Mr Trump's main objection is that all but a handful of member states have still not increased their defence budgets to meet a goal of spending at least 2% of their annual economic output on defence by 2024.

John Kelly, Mr Trump's chief of staff, and Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, sat silently alongside Mr Trump as he delivered the criticism across the table to Mr Stoltenberg.

She said the president raised the same issue at North Atlantic Treaty Organisation past year and that, "Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations". But he noted that President Barack Obama had raised the issue in the past, securing the 2024 target date in 2014, and did so using diplomacy rather that "bombast and demagoguery".

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"How can you be together when a country is getting its energy from the country you want protection against?"

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