Trump bashes North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members: Who pays what?

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The US president, Donald Trump, has faced sharp criticism from one of the EU's most senior leaders for overlooking European allies ahead of a two-day North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit set to take place amid rising global tension.

Trump, who landed in Belgium during the middle of the soccer-mad nation's World Cup semifinals match, will later head to London, where Prime Minister Theresa May's government is in turmoil over her plans for exiting the European Union.

President Trump will attend a closed-door summit with Vladimir Putin on Monday and has said no aides from the United States would be present for much of the talk.

The EU Council leader said pointedly that when Mr Trump did meet Mr Putin on 16 July "it is always worth knowing who is your strategic friend and who is your strategic problem".

Speaking about his European trip, Trump said his sitdown with Putin might be "easiest" of all the meetings.

Later, when asked if he sees Putin as a friend or a foe, Trump said he sees the Russian leader as a "competitor". Smith, who served as a national security advisor for then-Vice President Joe Biden, said Trump does not seem to understand the amount planning it takes for some of these governments to expand their budgets.

Overall, NATO members will spend an average 2.40 percent of GDP on defense this year compared with 2.42 percent in 2017, the alliance said.

USA allies who want to isolate Putin, such as Britain, or who are concerned about Trump's attitude towards Russian Federation are likely to be irritated by such a summit.

Four European members - Germany, France, Britain and Italy - combined pay 43.8 percent of the total.

Trump has said maintaining a strong personal relationship with Putin is in America's interest and has signaled to allies that he trusts his own instincts in dealing with Russia's president.

The agreement, which deals with counter-terrorism, tackling people smugglers and cybercrime as well as traditional defence, has been more than two years in the making.

He vowed not to be "taken advantage" of by the European Union, which he accuses of freeloading by relying on the United States for its defence while blocking U.S. imports into the bloc, the world's biggest market.

Still, Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton defended the meeting, saying that "direct contact between Trump and Putin is in the United States national interest".

We have just signed a joint EU-NATO declaration, which brings the cooperation between the European Union and NATO to the next level. "Not fair to the US taxpayer", Trump tweeted earlier in the morning, calling the situation "Very Unfair!" "And dear Europe, spend more on your defense because everyone expects an ally that is well prepared and equipped", he added, noting: "Money is important, but genuine solidarity should be more important". "Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!" he wrote on Twitter.

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