INTERNATIONAL

NATO states agree to increase defence funds

Brussels, July 12: US President Donald Trump on Thursday said that NATO countries have agreed to increase their military spending after he threatened to pull out at the summit here. Speaking after a two-day summit in Brussels, he said allies had committed to spending more than 2 per cent of their annual output (GDP) on defence budgets, the BBC reported. The President has been highly critical of the alliance, complaining the US pays more than other NATO members do. He singled out Germany on Wednesday for its “lagging defence spending” and accused it of being beholden to Russia as it buys energy from Moscow.

Trump said he would have been “very unhappy” if other NATO members didn’t increase their defence spending. “I told people that I would be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially. Because the US has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 per cent of the cost of NATO.” On being asked whether he was still threatening to potentially pull the US out of the NATO for any reason, Trump said: “I think I probably can, but that is unnecessary. They have stepped up today like they have never stepped up before.”

Trump pointed to increased financial commitments from NATO allies as a measure of his success, though it was not immediately clear what specific pledges he secured and the President declined to elaborate beyond saying NATO allies will spend more on defence and faster. He also pointed to progress over the last year, prior to this NATO summit. “We took in $33 billion more,” Trump said, pointing to increased financial commitments. In a separate briefing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was a clear commitment to NATO from all attendees. (IANS)