NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised President Donald Trump on Thursday for pushing countries in the alliance to boost their defense spending, an issue that has driven a wedge between Trump and Europe before.
Early in his administration, Trump scared European allies by deciding on the fly to scrap a public affirmation of Article 5, the longstanding lynchpin of the alliance that guarantees the countries' commitment to mutual defense.
"We have some that don't - and, well, they'll be dealt with", the USA president said. He also complained that Germany buys "massive amounts of gas from Russian Federation and paying billions and billions of dollars". Three European signatories to the pact - Britain, France and Germany - are continuing their support for the restraints on Tehran, even as Trump has contended the agreement does nothing to thwart Iran's ballistic missile tests or its military advances in the Middle East.
Despite often disagreeing with Trump in other areas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees that Germany should contribute more and wants her country to boost military spending to meet the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation target of 2 percent. "It's very important that we all contribute more to our shared security", Mr Stoltenberg said.
He did not elaborate what measures would be taken to ensure compliance. "No allies are cutting their budgets anymore".
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Germany, however, has indicated it will renege on that pledge, which is likely to emerge as a flashpoint when alliance leaders meet in July. "All allies are increasing their defense budgets".
Still, Stoltenberg said he has seen progress across the alliance in recent years as members have stopped cuts and steadily increased investments.
"You have helped to do that", Stoltenberg said.
Sitting on Trump's right, Stoltenberg said: "Your leadership on defense spending has really helped to make a difference".
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However, the Italian has ruled himself out of contention for either position out of loyalty to his current employers. Conte nonetheless has one yr left on his £9million-a-year contract, nevertheless.