Trump says U.S. must be paid more to defend Germany

President Donald Trump, with his son Barron Trump, wave as they disembark from Air Force One upon arrival at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, Fla. AP photo

WASHINGTON —

U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO and the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance.

Trump’s tweet from his Florida resort, where he is spending the weekend, came the day after his first meeting with Germany’s leader.

“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” the president wrote. “Nevertheless, Germany owes ... vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

Trump and Merkel tried to sidestep their differences in their meeting at the White House on Friday, but it was punctuated by some awkward moments.

During a photo op in the Oval Office, the two did not shake hands before reporters. Later, during a joint news conference, Trump pushed back against the notion in Europe that his “America First” agenda means he’s an isolationist, calling such a suggestion “another example of, as you say, fake news.” And he referred to the United States as “a very powerful company,” before quickly correcting that to “country.”

When a German reporter asked Trump if he regrets any of his commentary on Twitter, Trump said, “Very seldom.”

The new president reaffirmed the United States’ “strong support” for NATO, but reiterated his stance that NATO allies need to “pay their fair share” for the cost of defense. Trump said at the press conference that many countries owe “vast sums of money” — but he declined to identify Germany, at the time, as one of those nations.

Prior to his inauguration, Trump declared NATO “obsolete” but has since modified his stance, telling European leaders the alliance remains of strategic importance. Only the U.S. and four other members currently reach the benchmark of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense. Germany currently spends 1.23 percent of its GDP on defense, but it is being increased.

When the topic moved to trade, Trump said the U.S. would do “fantastically well” in its trade relations with Germany. The president has been deeply critical of foreign trade and national security agreements but suggested he was only trying to revise trade deals to better serve U.S. interests, rather than pull back from the world entirely.

Trump said trade agreements have led to greater trade deficits. The U.S. trade deficit with Germany was $64.9 billion last year, the lowest since 2009, according to the Commerce Department.

Merkel maintained her composure when Trump repeated his contention that former President Barack Obama may have tapped his phones in Trump Tower. He sought to turn the explosive charge into a light joke when asked about concerns raised by the British government that the White House is now citing a debunked claim that U.K. spies snooped on Trump.

“At least we have something in common, perhaps,” Trump said casually, referring to 2013 reports that the U.S. was monitoring Merkel’s cellphone conversations. As for the most recent report, Trump said he shouldn’t be blamed for quoting a Fox News analyst who had accused British intelligence of helping Obama spy on him.

On economic issues, Merkel attempted to project a conciliatory approach. She said the “success of Germans has always been one where the German success is one side of the coin and the other side of the coin has been European unity and European integration. That’s something of which I’m deeply convinced.”

Those comments appeared aimed at making a case to Trump on the benefits of the European Union. Trump backed Britain’s departure from the EU and has expressed skepticism of multilateral trade agreements.

The two leaders tried to express their common bonds but showed minimal rapport in their first encounter, a departure from Merkel’s warm relations with Obama during his eight years as president. At the start of the news conference, Merkel sought to break the ice, saying that it was “much better to talk to one another than about one another.”

Merkel said delicately that while she represents German interests, Trump “stands up for, as is right, American interests. That is our task respectively.” She said they were “trying to address also those areas where we disagree but tried to bring people together.”

“We need to be fair with each other,” Merkel said, saying both countries were expecting “that something good comes out of it for their own people.”

The meetings at the White House included discussions on fighting the Islamic State group, the conflict in Afghanistan and resolving Ukraine’s conflict, all matters that require close cooperation between the U.S. and Germany.

The talks aimed to represent a restart of a relationship complicated by Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. As a candidate, Trump frequently accused the chancellor of “ruining” Germany for allowing an influx of refugees and other migrants from Syria and accused his campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, of wanting to be “America’s Angela Merkel.”

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • 13

    CrazyJoe

    After reading this and other articles about Trumps foreign policy issues, I really have to wonder if he is working for the Russians. Think about it for a moment. It seems everything he's doing is just causing major issues with long standing allies, almost all of whom belong to NATO. What is better for Russia than a divided and fractured NATO? We already know how that's working out for the Ukraine.

  • 9

    René Pihlak

    of course he's a Russian agent.

  • 7

    Kurobune

    Yeah, OK. BUT who is going to protect THE WORLD from the Toddler-in-Chief ?

  • -2

    gogogo

    I don't like how Trump puts it but if Germany owes NATO support money they should pay it like all nations

  • -13

    bass4funk

    of course he's a Russian agent.

    Prove it. If you say that, then without a doubt, Obama for sure spied on him and his administration.

    I don't like how Trump puts it but if Germany owes NATO support money they should pay it like all nations.

    To be fair, I get it, his delivery is a bit heavy-footed, less tact, but that's one reason why he was elected, not to be soft and politically correct.

  • 5

    takeda.shingen.1991@gmail.com

    Prove it. If you say that, then without a doubt, Obama for sure spied on him and his administration.

    Erm? That does not make any logical sense. Very nonpartisan, Bass. Would be great if you had the same standards as Trump, but no; He claims he was wiretapped, therefore he must have had a reason for making his claim.

    Please, Donald is the boy who cried wolf.

    To be fair, I get it, his delivery is a bit heavy-footed, less tact, but that's one reason why he was elected, not to be soft and politically correct.

    Oh god, less fact? That's why he was elected? Who needs facts? Just make them up. That's great.

  • 4

    Haaa Nemui

    Oh god, less fact? That's why he was elected? Who needs facts? Just make them up. That's great.

    I don't often agree with bass but if you're going to argue with him please argue what he actually said.

  • 3

    LFRAgain

    If there's any one single smoking gun linking Trump to Russia, it's this completely irrational belligerence towards NATO. Trump is a liar, a fool, and a treasonous snake.

    Prove [that Trump is a Russian agent]

    Oh, it won't be long now. Not long at all.

  • 4

    takeda.shingen.1991@gmail.com

    I don't often agree with bass but if you're going to argue with him please argue what he actually said.

    I misread it, fair enough. But, to say he won because is less tactful is frankly just as absurd.

  • 2

    Haaa Nemui

    Now I completely agree with you. Actually though... That part about fact... You've probably got something there too.

  • 6

    Alistair Carnell

    ** And he referred to the United States as “a very powerful company,” before quickly correcting that to “country.”**

    Great Freudian slip there Trumpy.

  • 0

    itsonlyrocknroll

    Merkel must commit to 2% of GDP now, not 2024, regardless of President Trump protestations.

    Trump is not the reason why Merkel has failed to commit to NATO, Merkel has contrived cynically to take and fashion European Monetary Union to full advantage, to put Germany first, above any other EU member state.

    Just analyze how the ECB independence is hampered by the shameful pressure and relentless lobbying from the Executive Board of the Deutsche Bundesbank link below, all so monetary policy is focused on German economic competitiveness.

    The EU member states of Southern Europe, their peoples and youth, Greece, Italy, in particular all have been sacrificed to ring fence Germany's economic model. Break down the numbers, the fact is every EU member state runs a trade deficit with Germany. Monetary union, its single currency, gives Germany a huge unassailable competitive advantage.

    The UK through Brexit, is about to make this glaringly obvious, both economically and politically. Don't be fooled into believing or buying into the blame Trump game. Merkel made this happen, as much as Merkel knew all along about the VW emissions scandal.

    Whatever, and lets not beat around the bush here, range of economic sanctions, Trump is about to reign down on German imports, the fault rests entirely at Markel's door.

    https://www.bundesbank.de/Redaktion/EN/Standardartikel/Bundesbank/Tasks_and_organisation/executive_board.html

  • -7

    badsey3

    Well at least they found 1 point of common ground = Both had their phones "tapped" by Barrack Hussein Obama. Friends for life if you ask me.

  • 4

    John-San

    What a fool and a hypocrite. Like 5 minutes before he could of and should stated this. Why didn't,t this weak person state his while all are present. Like wait for her to go and now let loss. Like they good are friends, and the fool stated this, not the Germany leader. and Bassfunk: This idoit is elected by you and you mates. Now when you see how this fool act like 5 year old when ask by the pass then the Germany Leader to shake hand. I would rethink your devotion to this Pig. You have a Pig that represent the American People, you do agree with that this fool that represent you and you are very proud of that fact. I don,t see any Major objection to the election of this fool so I take it that most American are not concern and are of simular thinking. This indicate the true American, So the respect I had for American was misplace. So I will treat all American with distain unless they show total distain for the elected Fool.

  • 5

    Jimizo

    "Well at least they found 1 point of common ground = Both had their phones "tapped" by Barrack Hussein Obama. Friends for life if you ask me."

    Markel's face when Trump cracked his wiretapping gag seemed to indicate something else. She looked at him like he'd just broken wind.

    Trump has to learn that there is a time and place for trash and lies - the trash right MSM fake news of Fox and when he's addressing his supporters. Stay in your rubbish dump and don't try to drag others into it. It stinks.

  • 3

    goldorak

    the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense,

    I think Trump fails to understand what NATO is all about i.e collective defense. It's not about one country defending the others but all members being tight enough so that potential enemies do not even consider attacking one of them (as they know ALL would retaliate). And it's the same with other organisations such as the EU i.e one for all all for one type of thing.

    Trump/ the US being isolationist and divisive isn't helping anyone and certainly not NATO's or even US' interests. Talk privately to other members about their commitments but do not undermine the whole organisation in front of your (potential) enemies.

  • 1

    NCIS Reruns

    Donald Trump and Don Corleone not only share the same first name. Now he's demanding the Germans pay protection money. Next, he'll make Merkel an offer she can't refuse.

  • 3

    katsu78

    Shame on AP for not clarifying that 2% spending on NATO is a goal, not an obligation. No money is owed.

    René PihlakMAR. 19, 2017 - 06:48AM JST of course he's a Russian agent.

    We don't have the evidence to say that. It is obvious his actions are squarely aligned with what is in Russia's best interest, but to be fair that may be because Trump is an idiot, not because he's an agent. We need a congressional investigation to decide.

  • 6

    Simon Foston

    bass4funkMAR. 19, 2017 - 08:20AM JST

    "of course he's a Russian agent."

    Prove it.

    But you don't mind if Trump can't or won't prove his allegations against Obama, do you?

  • 7

    katsu78

    Simon FostonMAR. 19, 2017 - 12:17PM JST bass4funkMAR. 19, 2017 - 08:20AM JST But you don't mind if Trump can't or won't prove his allegations against Obama, do you?

    bass4funk has personally been making baseless accusations against Obama for as long as he's been posting here. Of course he doesn't mind.

  • 3

    canadianbento

    Trump is a misfit, he keeps contradicting himself. How in the World did this guy win the Election. There had to be a screw up somewhere!

  • 6

    Scrote

    Trump's "joke" about wiretapping had plenty of journalists laughing: laughing at Trump, not with him.

  • -2

    Tokyo-Engr

    itsonlyrockandroll - Thank you for your post. If people remove the emotions about Trump (whether they like him or not) he is right on this issue. No comment on the other parts of the article. Guess he is never going to stop with the childish tweeting.

  • 2

    Silvafan

    I honestly think Russia helped with the election because of Puti's dislike for the Clintons and their interference with Russian future plans. In addition, they thought that they could manipulate a greedy self-centered idiot with both blackmail and gratification. Unfortunately for them, they can't really keep an idiot inline for it goes against their nature. However, Russia stills win because Trump will be focused on his own self-interests, and the Republicans will be trying to undo all the positive progress the country has made in the last 8 years, while Puti continues his plans for invading or controlling most of Europe.

    Lots of misdirection and chaos to keep the US off-balance, so Puti can make Russia the Soviet Union of old.

  • 2

    zichi

    Germany does not "owe money to America" that's business man talk. Germany needs to honor its spending agreement with NATO. Not honoring the agreement isn't the same as owing money. The NATO agreements are not obligations but a desired level of spending to maintain the strength and capabilities of NATO.

    The 28 members of NATO agreed to spend 2% of the GNP on defense but only 5 have reached that target. US 3.61%, Greece 2.38%, Britain 2.21%, Estonia 2.16% and Poland 2%. Germany spends 1.19%.

    NATO spending is $918 billion with the US $664 billion, UK $60 billion, France $44 billion and Germany $41 billion.

    The biggest and probably only threat is from Russia but because of both the EU and NATO there has been peace in Europe for 70 years.

    It would probably be better and cheaper if there were only one European military instead of individual countries but that may never happen. After Brexit, France will be the only EU country with the atomic weapon.

    Total US investment in the EU is 3 times higher than in all of Asia. The EU investment in the US is 8 times the amounts in India and China.

    The American EU trade deficit is about $150 billion per year.

  • 0

    itsonlyrocknroll

    Hi Tokyo-Engr, without doubt President Trump lacks the delicacy of a diplomat or the subtlety of a politician, his manners certainly let him down yesterday.

    The challenge for world leaders and the media will be the need to find away of communicating with Presidential Trump to find compromise.

    It is perfectly legitimate to accuse the Governments of Germany and China, both systematically by hook or by crook have attempted to tip the balance of trade unfairly in there favor, and complain bitterly when President Trump, admittedly rather tactlessly calls a halt.

    The German media have of course concentrated on his manners (lack of) and conveniently ignored the message. German politicians want to shoot the messenger, not for a moment stopping to realize the consequences.

    An example would be MEP Manfred Weber, and Martin Schulz, a front running challenger to Angela Merkel leadership in the coming German elections. They seem totally oblivious to the economic and politcal damage their constant personal insults could cause..
    ,

  • -1

    zengohan

    NCIS Reruns (Donald Trump and Don Corleone not only share the same first name. Now he's demanding the Germans pay protection money. Next, he'll make Merkel an offer she can't refuse.)

  • 0

    Tokyo-Engr

    @zichi - yes the money is not necessarily "owed to America" Germany needs to pay its fair share for the common defense - I agree with that clarification.

    And yes @itsonlyrockandroll...Trump certainly does not have the required diplomacy skills for the office

  • 1

    albaleo

    NATO spending is $918 billion with the US $664 billion, UK $60 billion, France $44 billion and Germany $41 billion.

    These figures can be difficult to assess. I think these amounts refer to total military spending by NATO member countries (please correct me if I'm wrong). But what part of that spending is really a contribution to NATO concerns? For example, is the UK's defense of the Falkland Islands a NATO matter? Likewise US spending in Asia. What about all countries' involvement in the Middle East?

  • 1

    toshiko

    @NCIS: The fiction novel main character's name. Isn't it Vito?

    Trump says something, then tweets opposite explanation..

    He was against UN..

  • -2

    Tatanka

    Finally a President with a backbone!

  • -1

    M3M3M3

    How reliable and effective is NATO? It's never really been put to the test. If Russia were to invade part of Turkey, are we seriously supposed to believe that America and every other NATO member would immediately declare war on Russia and start dropping bombs on Russian soldiers? If you believe that, I think you are pretty naive. It's more likely that NATO would fold like a cheap deck chair and spend years trying diplomatic and economic sanctions before they lifted a finger.

    NATO has always been a bit of a bluff. A place where boys can show off their new toys in joint excercises every few years. In a 21st century global economy, coordinated economic sanctions are far more effective than military action. An alliance that had the power to impose a complete asset freeze and ban on imports and exports from an entire country would be more powerful than any army known to man. Of course, withdrawal from the WTO would probably be a necessary to making such an economic alliance possible.

  • 1

    gcbel

    "Nevertheless, Germany owes ... vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"

    Clueless how about the nuclear triad, and terrifyingly ignorant of how even NATO works.

  • -1

    toshiko

    He was reading papers in. front of him. So he was not creating stories.. He was saying what his aides prepared. As for Merkel, she had been observing Trumps' face by puzzled expression. Sounded Trump needs to employ informed aides than self appointed campaign workers....

  • -4

    bass4funk

    ** And he referred to the United States as “a very powerful company,” before quickly correcting that to “country.”**

    Great Freudian slip there Trumpy.

    I remember one time when Obama called the Marine Corps he did a Freudian slip of his own by calling them Marine Corpse A big smh moment.

    But you don't mind if Trump can't or won't prove his allegations against Obama, do you?

    No, I never said that and I know libs are too geedy to jump the gun, but if you read all my previous posts, I said, time and time again, there is No evidence that the Obama admin. wiretapped the president. Ok, hopefully that clarifies everything up once and for all.

    bass4funk has personally been making baseless accusations against Obama for as long as he's been posting here. Of course he doesn't mind.

    Not at all. pretty much spot on.

  • 2

    gokai_wo_maneku

    Members of NATO basically pay what they want to. If Trump is unhappy, he should just contribute less to NATO. I think NATO members would be happy if Trump withdrew and left them alone. It would be better for all.

  • 2

    HonestDictator

    Trump has already been informed that NATO doesn't pay the US anything because that is not how NATO works. This damned fool.

  • 1

    toshiko

    @bass4: Marines are investigated now. Obama predicted. They created online nude photo sites that contents are nude photos of cleverly created by using fellow female marines and nude bodies.
    Bak to NATO, it is not a USA branch.. German or any country has no obligation too pay anything to USA.

  • 1

    SuperLib

    Did he really announce this via Twitter? Seems a bit disrespectful way to handle things considering Germany is one of our closest allies.

    One thing that does worry me is if Trump sees our allies the way the standard GOP supporter sees them, which is typically, "you owe us you owe us you owe us we can do what we want you'd better fall in line better thanks us blah blah blah." The fact is the US and our allies need each other and we need a leader who understands that basic premise.

    So what happens if Germany doesn't pay more? Will Trump start pulling US hardware out of Germany? We need those bases to project force. They aren't some bargaining tool unless you have some other place to store it all. Let's not cut off our nose to spite our face all because Trump came out with some tough talk that his pride won't let him adjust.

    Meanwhile, I'm sure Trump will have more glowing things to say about Russia soon.

  • -1

    toshiko

    Trump wants Germany to pay to USA or to him. Germany is not going to pay.

  • -1

    John-San

    . I was in another room when I hear the TV. I been hearing this high pitching whinging a lot lately . I said to myself, I know that voice" it Trump mouthpiece Spicer or Spencer. How is that !! For me to recognised this bloke by his voice after such a sort period is a concern.

  • -1

    bass4funk

    Did he really announce this via Twitter? Seems a bit disrespectful way to handle things considering Germany is one of our closest allies.

    Someone needs to talk tough, enough of political correctness.

    One thing that does worry me is if Trump sees our allies the way the standard GOP supporter sees them, which is typically, "you owe us you owe us you owe us we can do what we want you'd better fall in line better thanks us blah blah blah." The fact is the US and our allies need each other and we need a leader who understands that basic premise.

    No, an ally doesn't take advantage of a fellow ally. Trump is right, maybe it's time for Europe to cut more entitlements and pay their fair share or more of it. There is no reason we should foot the majority of the bill.

    So what happens if Germany doesn't pay more? Will Trump start pulling US hardware out of Germany?

    No, but he can do what Obama did to the Ukraine when they asked for our help when Putin annexed Crimea and that is do nothing or can withhold military aide and funding, there are a lot of things he can do, a lot of room to work with.

    We need those bases to project force. They aren't some bargaining tool unless you have some other place to store it all. Let's not cut off our nose to spite our face all because Trump came out with some tough talk that his pride won't let him adjust.

    Like with Japan, Germany is not going to cut its own throat, they aren't that stupid, I can tell you that.

    Meanwhile, I'm sure Trump will have more glowing things to say about Russia soon.

    I think the left are the ones that will keep beating that Russian drum.

  • 1

    SuperLib

    So your plan is to basically threaten our allies. I do not support that. Political correctness doesn't have anything to do with it, in my eyes it mostly comes down to maturity.

  • 1

    Tokyo-Engr

    @Bass and SuperLib - I actually agree with parts of both of what you have to say.

    In my opinion the use of Twitter is childish and foolish. Again, someone needs to take away his toys...for lack of a better word.

    Threatening our allies does not help and yes political correctness does not have much to do with this as the way Trump is handling this does not show well.

    On the other hand, Bass makes a good point; Germany has been taking advantage of this situation for decades and Germany should pony up their fair share, not to the U.S., but to NATO.

  • 1

    arrestpaul

    WASHINGTON - **U.S. President Donald Trump said Saturday that Germany owes “vast sums of money” to NATO

    and

    the U.S. “must be paid more” for providing defense, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance**.

    Germany agreed to support NATO. It's the obligation of every NATO member to meet it's obligation to NATO. Every nation. The NATO member nations certainly expect the U.S. to meet is obligations. If NATO nations are allowed to arbitrarily ignore their obligations then NATO has certainly outlived it's usefulness. If one nation choses not to pay today, other nation's might not want to defend them tomorrow.

    Maybe it's time for Europe, or maybe the E.U., to handle their own group defense?

    This is not a new issue. Even Obama wanted all NATO nations to pay what all NATO nations had agreed to pay. Obama wasn't able to do anything about it. Maybe Trump can?

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