WASHINGTON: Ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels next week, President Donald Trump has said he would ask NATO members to start paying their bills as the US is not going to take care of everything.
Trump will travel to Brussels, the headquarters of NATO in Belgium, on Monday, where he is expected to call on members of the security alliance to increase their own defence spending.
"I'll see NATO and I'm going to tell NATO -- you got to start paying your bills. The US is not going to take care of everything, Trump said at a campaign rally in Montana last night.
He lashed out at Europe over defence spending and trade, saying the US is paying for anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent to protect Europe, but the European countries are not fair to the US on trade.
"They kill us on trade. They kill us on other things. They make it impossible to do business in Europe, and yet they come in and they sell their Mercedes and their BMWs to us. So we have USD 151 billion in trade deficits with the EU. On top of that, they kill us with NATO. They kill us, he said.
He directly addressed German Chancellor Angela Merkel, a key G7 member, from the rally, saying, "The US pays four per cent of a huge GDP and Germany which is the biggest country of the European Union, pays 1 per cent. And I said, you know, Angela, I can't guarantee it, but we're protecting you, and it means a lot more to you than protecting us because I don't know how much protection we get by protecting you."
"And then they go out and make a gas deal, oil and gas, from Russia, where they pay billions and billions of dollars to Russia. So they want to protect against Russia, and yet they pay billions of dollars to Russia, and we are the schmucks that are paying for the whole thing, he said.
Trump said after he came to power, almost USD 33 billion more is projected to be paid by the NATO nations.
But it's not enough. Do they ever tell you that? No, no. But I will tell you, the Secretary General Stoltenberg is Trump's biggest fan. He says, those NATO nations are going like this, less money, less money. Why not? When you started talking, it went like a rocket ship. Went just like a rocket ship, he added.
In a conference call with reporters, US Permanent Representative to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison said the emphasis during the summit meeting would be on burden-sharing.