US President Donald Trump unleashed a blistering attack on Germany and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, wasting no time at the outset of a week of high-stakes diplomacy to hit at Washington's closest partners for what he said were hypocritical demands for US security protection.
"If we look at the gas pipeline, Germany is an independent country where energy supply is concerned, we diversify, but the main overarching topic is the summit - we want a summit that sends out the message of unity".
It would seem Trump is most looking forward to his encounter with the Russian president on July 16, rather than his one-day tour in the UK.
The EU president then directly addressed Trump, "who for a long time now has been criticizing Europe nearly daily for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defense capabilities, and for living off the United States". "So we're going to have a meeting on that", Trump said as he arrived at the breakfast, describing the situation as "disproportionate and not fair to the taxpayers of the United States and we're going to make it fair". At the conclusion of that meeting, Trump retracted his endorsement of the group's final joint statement and blasted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as "very dishonest and weak".More news: Facebook handed maximum data breach fine for role in Cambridge Analytica scandal
"So we're supposed to protect Germany but they're getting their energy from Russian Federation".
Trump touched down in Brussels aboard Air Force One hot on the heels of a stern warning from the EU's top official that America should "appreciate" its allies.
Trump said Germany's closure of coal and nuclear power plants on environmental grounds had increased its dependence, like much of the rest of Europe, on Russian gas.
Trump set the stage for clashes at the summit by writing to around a dozen allies to berate them for lagging on a 2014 pledge to try to spend two percent of GDP on defence by 2024.More news: Widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo leaves China
He has sent a string of tweets over the past few days criticising the alliance - saying: "NATO must pay MORE and the United States must pay LESS".
"That's a fundamental inconsistency in the pro-NATO position", Mr. Desch said. The U.S.is projected to spend 3.5 percent of GDP on defense this year, down from 3.57 percent in 2017, while Canada is forecast to reduce such spending to 1.23 percent in 2018 from 1.36 percent.
"I think these countries have to step it up, not over a 10-year period, but they have to step it up immediately", Trump said, pointing to Germany in particular as a "rich country" that "could increase (defense spending) immediately tomorrow and have no problem".
Despite Russia's aggressive moves in Ukraine and confirmed election meddling in the USA, the president wouldn't say if Putin was friend or foe.
Trump said: "We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries". And I think you can have no doubt, Mr President, that this is an investment in common American and European defense and security.More news: A Single Goal Sends France To The World Cup Final
He even suggested his meeting with Putin on Monday would the "easiest" of his trip in Europe.