WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- President Donald Trump on Saturday criticized Germany for paying too little to both NATO and the United States for security support, a day after he held a meeting at the White House with Chancellor Angela Merkel that showcased the two leaders' disagreements.
"Despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel," Trump wrote in a post on Twitter as he began his weekend at Mar-a-Lago, his estate in Palm Beach. Some of the words were in all capital letters.
"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!" he continued.
But, no nation "owes" money to NATO. Outside of relatively small assessments to pay the physical costs of operating NATO headquarters and command facilities, the organization long ago set a goal that each of the 38 members would devote at least 2 percent of GDP to defense in their own budgets.
Trump may have been referring to the fact that Germany, like most NATO countries, falls short of the alliance's guideline on military spending, but that money is not intended to be paid to NATO or to the United States.
The president's Twitter messages came after a White House meeting at which Trump appeared to refuse Merkel's offer to shake hands in the Oval Office. The visit highlighted the gulf between the U.S. president, who has styled himself as a foe of globalism, and the German chancellor, a staunch defender of the liberal world order.
Trump expressed skepticism during his campaign about the utility of NATO, and while he has praised the organization since taking office, he has made it clear that he believes the member countries must contribute more to an alliance that guarantees a common defense for all who belong to it.
U.S. presidents have long pressed for their NATO partners to commit more money and other resources, but Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have gone a step further, suggesting that the United States might reduce its contribution if other countries do not increase theirs.
At the White House on Friday, Merkel said Germany would meet its previously stated goal of increasing its military spending to 2 percent of its GDP by 2024.
Trump said Friday that he thanked Merkel for that commitment but hinted that he was impatient over whether Germany and other countries would "pay what they owe."
"Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States," the president said.
A Section on 03/19/2017
Print Headline: Trump: Germany not paying enough