Donald Trump threw the NATO alliance into turmoil with a threat to pull the United States out unless its other members increase their military spending immediately.
Reports suggest the US President told allies that the US “could do it’s own thing” unless they increased their defence budgets.
French President Emmanuel Macron denied the reports, telling journalists: "President Trump never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO.”
However, Mr Trump’s intervention prompted an immediate response, with NATO members going into an emergency session while the US President held a remarkable press conference where he said: “We are doing numbers like we’ve never seen before.”
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Only five out of the 29 NATO members currently spend 2% of GDP on defence, a target set by the alliance for 2024.
However, the US President suggested he wanted the target to rise to 4% of GDP. “The commitment was 2%, ultimately it will be going up quite a bit higher than that,” he said.
Mr Trump has repeatedly complained about the cost to the US from collective defence and during the presidential election campaign said NATO was “obsolete”.
At Thursday’s press conference, he repeated an incorrect claim that the US “pays for 70 to 90% of NATO”.
The US makes up roughly two thirds of total alliance defence spending, but that includes all American military expenditure around the world, including domestically.
Washington’s contribution to the $2.8bn NATO budget, paying for its headquarters and other running costs, is around 22%.
“For years presidents have been coming to these meetings and have talked about the tremendous expense to the US, and tremendous progress has been made,” Mr Trump said.
“Everyone’s agreed to substantially up their commitments, they’ve agreed to up it to levels that they have never thought of before.”
Mr Trump insisted that “the US commitment to NATO remains very strong, but primarily because of the spirit that everyone has, the amount of money they’re willing to spend… the level of spirit in that room is incredible.”
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The US Presidents claimed he had secured an additional $33bn from other NATO countries over the past year, although this had already been planned.
Mr Macron also denied the claim that NATO allies have agreed to boost defense spending beyond 2% of GDP.
The French President said: There is a communique that was published yesterday. It's very detailed.
"It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024. That's all."