‘We have issues with Russia’ Germany tells Trump

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As the European Commission announced a settlement with Gazprom on Monday (13 March), officials told EURACTIV.com it was "highly likely" that the executive will approve the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline project. Most NATO members are spending less than 2 percent, though more are moving in that direction.

Diplomats were already anxious about the summit ahead of time, not least because of an abrasive G7 meeting last month, when Mr Trump renounced a summit communique that had previously been jointly agreed. The United States spends heavily to defend Germany from Russian Federation, he said, while Germany is paying "billions and billions of dollars a year to Russian Federation".

"NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the US", Trump wrote.

"Take a look at the chart", Trump instructed the reporter, explaining the U.S.is owed a mass of money for decades of delinquent allied payments.

Trump said: "We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries".

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"I myself experienced that a part of Germany that was controlled by the Soviet Union, and I am very happy today that we are united in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany", Merkel told reporters, according to the Washington Post. "So we're supposed to protect Germany, but they're getting their energy from Russian Federation".

Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Belgium Tuesday for the summit, ahead of meetings later this week with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Britain and Vladimir Putin in Finland.

But Trump's increasingly vitriolic tone on those issues, plus his criticism of Merkel's migration policies and his decisions to pull out of agreements dear to Germany like the deal meant to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and the Paris climate accord, have many questioning what comes next. So you tell me, is that appropriate?

The comment illustrated how Trump often seeks to avoid conflict with people when he is face to face with them versus the often-harsher rhetoric he uses when he's talking behind their back.

During the president's remarks, he suggested countries not only meet their minimum commitment of 2 percent but increase it to 4 percent, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary said in a statement.

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"Canadian prime ministers have always been careful to keep a distance from their American counterparts. but the bottom line is you do have to look at dollars because dollars do talk".

Trump's comments were a remarkable criticism for a United States president to make about a close USA ally and is likely to increase tensions between the U.S. and its European allies.

Trump had begun the day by attacking Merkel's government, accusing Germany of becoming "captive" to Russian interests through overreliance on its gas exports.

"But I have to bring it up because I think it's very unfair to our country, it's very unfair to our taxpayer", he said. "I think it is something North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has to look at". The U.S.is at 3.5 percent, or $685 billion previous year.

A joint declaration said: "We are committed to improving the balance of sharing the costs and responsibilities of alliance membership".

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