US President Donald Trump has told NATO countries to increase their defence spending to four percent of their gross domestic product, higher than the group’s goal of two percent, a White House official said on Wednesday.
The official said the president’s remarks were not a formal proposal but came as he was urging leaders of the 29-member military alliance to increase their outlays on defence.
The US president has been openly critical of his NATO allies since becoming president in January 2017. Ahead of the summit being held in the Belgian capital, Brussels, Trump sent out a tweet about the funding of NATO.
Trump has repeatedly said the US was bearing an unfair burden because it spends many times more of its GDP on defence than other NATO countries.
speaking at the summit, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier said that members states had agreed to spend more on defence in the coming years.
“All allies are increasing defence spending. This year at least eight of the NATO countries have committed to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defence and a majority of our allies have plans to do so by 2024,” Stoltenberg said during a press conference in Brussels.
“For a quarter of a century many countries have been cutting billions from their defence budgets. Now they are adding billions,” he added.
Stoltenberg said that in the coming years, the financial burden will be divided more evenly.
In total, NATO will receive $266bn more between this year and 2024, the secretary-general said.
But Stoltenberg’s assurances that NATO member states are ramping up military funding do not seem to have impressed Trump.
“Russia has long disliked NATO as a leftover from the Soviet period… They have always seen it as a US imperial project with its final goal being Moscow.
Source – Al -JAZEERA