Published: Fri, May 26, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Trump Tells NATO Countries To Pay More


President Trump, right, beside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of the NATO summit at its new headquarters in Brussels, May 25, 2017.

He charged Thursday that 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should for their defense and usa taxpayers are unfairly having to shoulder the burden.

Member states such as France, Germany, and Italy had reportedly opposed such a move to avoid dragging the alliance into a ground war and risk harming relations with Arab powers.

The president's Brussels meeting with the leaders is his fourth stop on his inaugural overseas trip. While Trump argued that numerous allies "owe massive amounts of money from past years", the 2% defense spending benchmark that allies must meet is created to boost their military, not to funnel money to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or other allies.

Canada will continue as usual when it comes to sharing intelligence with allies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says, even as U.S. President Donald Trump is being accused of playing fast and loose with sensitive secrets. "It is simply a harmless situation", he told reporters after the summit.

In one nod to Trump, NATO leaders are due to agree later on Thursday for the Western military bloc to join the US -led, 68-nation coalition against Islamic State (IS) militant group in Syria and Iraq.

The extremist group IS claimed responsibility for the May 22 attack, in which a suspected suicide bomber set off explosives as concertgoers were leaving Manchester Arena after watching American pop singer Ariana Grande perform.

An anti-terror coordinator may also be named.

And NATO's secretary general announced two points on the meeting's agenda that many interpret as nods to Trump.

Manchester Police: Five people arrested in connection with Ariana Grande concert attack
Abedi and another brother stayed behind to finish up school, the news service reported. The elder Abedi said his son hated past attacks by extremists groups.

Under the NATO treaty, members of the alliance must commit 2% of their GDP to defense spending, a benchmark that only five of the alliance's 28 members now meet. Still, many are skeptical about this arbitrary bottom line that takes no account of effective military spending where it's needed most.

Leaders also will agree to submit annual action plans laying out how they plan to meet NATO's spending goal.

Trump isn't the only one wanting more commitment, though.

While in Belgium, Trump will unveil a memorial to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the only time in the alliance's history that the Article 5 mutual defense pledge has been invoked. Mr. Trump then straightens his jacket and has a brief conversation with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.

Trump arrived in Brussels Wednesday following talks with the Pope Francis at the Vatican in Rome.

Trump also had lunch with Macron, who has been critical of the Republican president. Trump wants more from the alliance, while countries such as Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia want iron-clad assurances that they won't be left alone should Russian Federation cross their borders.

Sicily is the last stop on his first global trip as president, which has included visits in Riyadh, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Vatican.

Outside the heavily guarded security perimeter near the city's airport and in downtown Brussels, peace groups have planned rallies of their own.

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