UPDATE — 7/13, 9:03 a.m. EDT: NBC News is reporting Defense Department brass sought to reassure U.S.-NATO allies America will continue to fully fund its military operations in Europe following President Trump’s veiled threats to withdraw from the region.
While Trump contended NATO countries will increase their defense funding by “$33 billion”, member-nations signed an agreement Thursday which reaffirms a commitment to only allocate two percent of GDP by 2024 for military-related expenses.
President Trump opened the annual two-day NATO summit in Brussels with a series of criticisms at member states over trade, Germany’s cozy relationship with the Kremlin and a call for countries to increase yearly defense expenditures to four percent of their gross domestic product (GDP).
During meetings in Belgium, Mr. Trump leveled passionate strictures at Germany for its approval of the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 Russian pipeline, a $151 billion trade deficit with the EU and for what Trump defines as NATO members falling behind on financial commitments to the alliance.
Taking aim at member states in an early meeting with the heads of state, Trump announced his desire to see a two percent commitment to defense spending raised to four percent of annual GDP.
“The President raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year. President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.
Following the meeting, the 29 members released a joint declaration vowing to meet a 2014 pledge to contribute two percent of of their respective GDP figure in annual defense spending by 2024.
As of 2018, a mere seven of the 29 NATO member states are scheduled to meet the 2014 pledge.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. spends 3.1 percent of its GDP on defense to meet its NATO obligations. Both Turkey and France exceed the 2.0 benchmark, while the U.K. spends 1.8, Italy 1.5; and Canada 1.3 percent.
A bulwark against communism during the Cold War, NATO has been the target of sharp criticism from Mr. Trump since taking office for members failing to meet the 2014 stated goal.
Editor’s note: The headline of this article has been edited since its original publication.
[Reuters via Yahoo] [Photo courtesy Christophe Licoppe/Belga via ZUMA Press/Mother Jones]