"They have substantially upped their commitment and now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, " Trump told reporters shortly before leaving Brussels for London to meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Queen Elizabeth.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said flatly that he agreed "no increase in spending" beyond that previously agreed by Rome, which previous year spent 1.1 percent on defence and is labouring under heavy debts that severely limit its options. "Because most of the time you're not sitting next to the president of the United States". Germany, Europe's richest country, spends just 1.24% on defense, and it's an unpopular topic there.
Asked about pressures on countries with weaker finances, he said, "We have many wealthy countries with us today but we have some that aren't so wealthy and they did ask me if they could buy the military equipment, and could I help them out, and we will help them out a little bit", he told a news conference. As to whether he could unilaterally pull the US out of the alliance without congressional approval, Trump said, "I think I probably can, but that's not necessary". Not to mention, Trump already has a dubious relationship with Russian Federation at a time when much of the world, especially Europe, is concerned about its aggressive military activities.
Trump also singled out Germany over its low-levels of defense spending - it now spends 1.24 percent of its GDP on defense - and renewed his criticism of a controversial gas pipeline deal between Germany and Russian Federation made a day earlier. "It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024.
We all agreed we have to deliver on that", Stoltenberg said, later saying: "We have agreed that we need to make good on the pledges we have made".
Asked when exactly the allies would now reach their two percent of GDP target, Trump said it would be over the coming years.
Trump then held an impromptu press conference.
He demanded that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries "Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025" and then rattled them further by privately suggesting member nations should spend four percent of their gross domestic product on defence, a bigger share than even the United States now pays, according to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation statistics. I don't. I'm very consistent. "I'm a very stable genius".
"A clear message from President Trump is having an impact". Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment?
It's an uncomfortable environment for May, who is facing her own political unrest outside of Trump's visit. He described the U.K.as a "hot-spot with lots of resignations".
Trump's trip to Britain will test the bonds of the U.S. and U.K.'s special relationship. "I think it's fine", he said. "I don't know that is what they voted for".
"It will be over a relatively short period of years", Trump said.