BRUSSELS: Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will strive on Thursday to transfer past US President Donald Trump’s calls for for increased defence spending, and deal with ending the lengthy struggle in Afghanistan, within the second day of a summit in Brussels underscored by transatlantic tensions.
On a visit that may even take Trump to Britain and to Helsinki to meet Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the president spent the primary day of the NATO summit lambasting allies for failing to spend the focused 2 p.c of GDP on defence and accused Germany of being a prisoner to Russian vitality.
Trump, in a late-night put up on Twitter, wrote: “Billions of additional dollars are being spent by NATO countries since my visit last year, at my request, but it isn’t nearly enough. US spends too much.”
It adopted an uncomfortable first spherical on the summit the place anxious Western allies have been subjected to the US president’s “America first” strategy. His remark that Germany was managed by Russia earned a rebuke from Berlin.
On day two, leaders will welcome non-NATO companions together with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko to the alliance’s new glass-and-steel headquarters as they search to deal with coverage relatively than politics.
British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to set the tone on Wednesday by saying extra troops for NATO’s Afghan coaching mission.
“We will be deploying an additional 440 personnel to NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan and I think that shows when NATO calls, the UK is one of the first to step up,” May instructed reporters.
NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg desires leaders to agree to fund Afghan safety forces till 2024, regardless of public fatigue in Western international locations about their involvement within the battle.
Funding has averaged at about $1 billion yearly and Stoltenberg has mentioned he anticipated that stage to be met.
Leaders shall be eager to hear extra about Trump’s army strategy to Afghanistan, which he revamped final August to embody a surge in air strikes to power Taliban militants to the negotiating desk.
US officers have instructed Reuters that Washington is making ready one other assessment of technique, a yr after Trump begrudgingly agreed to prolong involvement within the 17-year-old struggle.
Trump was opposed to remaining in America’s longest struggle, however his advisers satisfied him to give it extra time. He licensed the deployment of a further three,000 troops, bringing the whole to round 15,000.
Trump’s late tweet additionally repeated his insistence from earlier within the summit that Germany was flawed to assist an $11 billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import much more Russian gasoline whereas being gradual to meet targets for NATO spending.
“Pipeline dollars to Russia are not acceptable!” he wrote.
But Trump appeared earlier to considerably overstate German reliance on Russian vitality and to suggest Berlin was funding a pipeline that Chancellor Angela Merkel says is a industrial enterprise.
Having chided NATO members for failing to attain a goal of spending 2 p.c of nationwide revenue on defence, Trump instructed fellow leaders on Wednesday he would like a objective of four p.c, comparable to US ranges, officers mentioned.
That would characterize a large upheaval of budgetary priorities in Europe the place Germany and lots of others have pledged solely to attain 2 p.c by 2024 or later, and it was not clear what allies would spend the cash on.
At the summit on Thursday, leaders will focus on ties with Georgia and Ukraine, two NATO membership hopefuls that contribute to troop ranges in Afghanistan however have seen their possibilities of becoming a member of the alliance hampered by Russian incursions into their territory.
Under NATO guidelines, international locations with territorial conflicts can not be a part of the Western alliance and neither nation is anticipated to progress in membership talks.
Macedonia, nevertheless, which was formally invited to begin accession talks on Wednesday, shall be a part of a particular ceremony on Thursday because the alliance units the stage for increasing to its 30th member state.