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President Donald Trump on Wednesday suggested that NATO should require member countries to pay 4 percent of their GDP instead of 2 percent to support defense budgets, continuing his tough rhetoric against allies and arguing that the U.S. shoulders too much of the burden for mutual defense in Europe.
“During the President’s remarks today at the NATO summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2% of their GDP on defense spending but that they increase it to 4%. The President raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement, according to The Hill.
“President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations,” Sanders added.
Trump's comments came during a meeting with world leaders at a NATO summit in Brussels.
NATO members agreed in 2014 to contribute at least 2 percent of their GDP to their individual defense budgets by 2024. But Trump has criticized many countries for failing to meet their commitments, leaving the U.S. to pay an unfair amount.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev agreed that countries should contribute more to NATO, but pushed back against Trump's transactional approach to international security.
“NATO is not a bourse a which one can buy security. But yes, on the other hand, President Trump is right, as each country should build its effective capabilities, and the unwillingness with which Bulgaria spends money on defense is obvious,” Radev told reporters at the summit, according to Bloomberg.
While many NATO members plan to meet the 2 percent commitment before 2024, Trump argued that all member countries should pay the minimum contribution immediately, claiming that the U.S. already devotes 4.2 percent of GDP to NATO.
What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
Trump specifically targeted Germany over an oil pipeline deal with Russia, demanding that countries “step it up immediately” when it comes to defense spending.
“You know, we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France. We're protecting everybody. And yet we're paying a lot of money to protect,” Trump said.
The resolution was added to the House schedule after the Senate approved a similar measure before Trump left for the NATO summit.
The House Foreign Affairs Committee has already approved the resolution, calling NATO “the most important and critical security link between the United States and Europe.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also voiced his support for the measure.
“NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been,” he said.
The resolution includes measures supporting continued sanctions against Russia and calling for the U.S. to “maintain and increase political, economic, and security support” for Central and Eastern European countries.