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Yet Gerhard Schröder, the former Chancellor Mr. Trump mentioned, is cashing in on his lobbying prowess to ease the project through Berlin as chairman of the Nord Stream 2 consortium and chairman of Russian energy giant Rosneft. And he called alliance members "delinquent" on their contributions to NATO's budget. In 2017, the U.S.is estimated to have spent more than 69% of the cumulative total.

Stoltenberg estimated European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to their military spending by 2024 and said "this is really adding some extra momentum", apparently meaning Trump's pressure.

Trump said: "We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries".

First, it was then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign trail contention that Chancellor Angela Merkel was "ruining Germany" with her decision to allow in more than 1 million asylum-seekers in 2015 and 2016.

"Many countries are not paying what they should", he said.

Referring to her own past living in the now defunct East Germany, Ms Merkel added: "I personally experienced how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union".

"We're paying for anywhere from 70 to 90 percent to protect Europe, and that's fine."

Theresa May has asked Donald Trump to raise the issue of Russian aggression against the west, including the Salisbury nerve agent attack, when he meets Vladimir Putin for high-stakes talks next week.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted Wednesday that member countries have already been increasing their defense spending.

'President Trump, who spoke first, raised the issue not only to achieve 2 percent, today, but a new barrier - 4 percent, ' Bulgarian President Rumen Radev told reporters, according to the wire service Reuters.

Former secretary of state John Kerry blasted President Trump's criticism of Germany in a lengthy statement on Wednesday morning as "strange", "counterproductive", and "disgraceful".

Of Nato's 29 members, just five meet that target this year: the US, Greece, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Latvia. "And I think that leaders are also looking forward to your thoughts about the meeting with President Putin later on".

While on his way to the summit, Trump fired off a series of confrontational tweets accusing his North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies of stiffing the United States by not paying their fair share to contribute to NATO's budget, and lamenting the trade imbalance between the USA and the European Union.

The Kremlin hopes to increase the dependence of Germany and Western Europe on Russian gas while depriving Ukraine and other inconvenient states of the transit fees Russia must pay to use current pipelines. Smith listed several ways that Germany has demonstrated friendship to the USA, including treating wounded American soldiers amid conflicts with terrorist groups.

Yet Trump did not seem to get that message.

At the same time, despite his criticism of the pipeline and its links to Russia, Trump has been noncommittal in recent comments about whether he might lift USA sanctions on Russia, and told reporters he'd "have to see" whether the US might recognize Crimea to be part of Russia. "We're moving in the right direction", he said.


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