The leaders of America’s strongest military allies can count on one thing during visits to this White House: President Donald Trump will call them out for not paying their bills.
Trump used an East Room press conference on Thursday after meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to once again draw attention to a NATO ally for not dedicating the agreed upon 2 percent of gross domestic product toward defense spending.
“I love the question you asked the prime minister, I look forward to his answer,” Trump said, smiling and turning to his Italian counterpart, following a reporter’s query about Italy’s spending less than 1 percent on defense. “I’m going to be asking him that same question very soon.”
Gentiloni later countered that Italy’s “commitment to common defense is very clear.”
Throughout the campaign and since becoming president, Trump has insisted the U.S. must cease taking singular responsibility for global problems and that its partners must pay their fair share.
He criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her White House visit in March for not contributing the 2 percent, a goal that NATO countries collectively pledged in 2014, and indicated Berlin should retroactively repay the U.S. After tweeting that he had a “GREAT” meeting with Merkel, Trump added “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!”
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PAUL D. SHINKMAN
Paul D. Shinkman is Senior Reporter, National Security Correspondent at U.S. News & World Report