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4 Jul, 2018 09:57

US not NATO’s ‘piggy bank’? Trump ‘likely’ to talk straight at bloc’s upcoming summit

US not NATO’s ‘piggy bank’? Trump ‘likely’ to talk straight at bloc’s upcoming summit

Trump is likely to tell NATO members the US will cease to be the bloc’s “piggy bank,” focusing instead on problems at home, the White House said. The remark may add to jitters among US allies about the upcoming summit in Brussels.

US President Donald Trump is poised to deliver his vision on burden-sharing among military allies at Brussels NATO summit in July, Hogan Gidley, the White House’s Deputy Press Secretary, told reporters on board Air Force one. “What the president is going to do is go into these meetings with the mindset to protect the American people,” he commented.

“But as he said many times before, America is thought, so often, to be the world’s piggy bank, and that’s got to stop,” Gidley said. “We have problems here we have to fix at home, and that’s what the president is focused on. And he’ll convey those messages, I’m sure, and sentiments to those other leaders.”

The spokesman did not elaborate on any possible action Trump might take, but said the president has shown “some frustration there on the financial burden that the United States unfairly is forced to bear,” adding, “he wants changes.”

There are signs indicating NATO defense spending is likely to become a top theme in Brussels. Earlier in July, Trump reportedly sent a series of letters to some European leaders, demanding that they strive to devote 2 percent of their GDP to defense.

In the letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, dated June 19, Trump lamented that Norway remains “the only NATO ally sharing a border with Russia that lacks a credible plan to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense,” as cited by Washington Post. He proceeded with the same stance in a similar letter to Belgium, reportedly saying it will “become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments.”

In a separate letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel – quoted by the New York Times – Trump claimed the US “continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the Continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound.”

NATO summit in Brussels will be the first substantial international event since the contentious Group of Seven meeting in Quebec, where Trump notoriously confronted six fellow allies on pressing multilateral issues. During the summit, the American president had also compared the alliance to his favorite ‘punching bag,’ free-trade deals, at a highly contentious G7 summit two months ago, according to a report by Axios.

READ MORE: ‘A clear no’: Germany’s Social Dems slam Trump’s 2% NATO defense spending calls

“NATO is as bad as NAFTA. It’s much too costly for the US,” Trump said during a private meeting. Cracks among G7 allies have been widened by a lingering trade war between the US, Europe and Canada. Trump slapped those countries on their steel and aluminum, prompting them to fire back with tariffs on distinctive US exports from clothing and spirits to Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

US is also at odd with its major NATO ally, Turkey, over the purchase of Russian S400 missile systems, which saw a war of words between Washington and Ankara.

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