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Trump's Disruption Echoes Turmoil at G-7 Summit: NATO Update

Viktoria Dendrinou, Jonathan Stearns, Patrick Donahue
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) signage is displayed outside the museum of art and history before government officials arrive for a working dinner during the summit in Cinquantenaire park in Brussels, Belgium, on Wednesday, July 11, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump is on the offensive as leaders gathered at a two-day NATO summit. The U.S. president has questioned the value of the generations-old alliance and has linked spending for defense with trade. Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

In an unexpected twist, NATO leaders are holding an unplanned emergency session on the last day of their two-day summit, which has been upended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on allies over defense spending.

We are following developments here in real time. Time stamps are for Brussels.

Merkel Talks, and Trump about to Brief (12:08 p.m.)

Merkel has given a statement to reporters after the emergency session, saying that we are stronger together and it should stay that way. Trump asked NATO allies for more burden-sharing, demanding what he’s been asking for some time. It’s been an “intense” summit, she said.

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Crunch time (11:57 a.m.)

One EU diplomat with knowledge of the meeting said that it was a make or break moment.

Here is a recap of Trump so far (11:47 a.m.)

Trump has made a big deal about money and demanded last night that allies meet the 2 percent threshold immediately, and not by 2024. He has also floated the idea of ‘going it alone’ if allies don’t comply, something which he has said before but he can’t really do without an -- unlikely-- Congress approval.

Finally, he has also toyed with the idea of raising the threshold to 4 percent and thrown the summit into turmoil, in much the same way he did at the Group of Seven in Canada.

Some context (11:40 a.m.)

Trump used the session with Ukraine and Georgia to return to the question of NATO members’ defense spending and used a “harsher” tone than yesterday, according to a European official with knowledge of the discussion. He targeted Germany in particular and referred to “Angela” more than once, saying something to the effect that she can do more. He also apparently referred to the cost of the new NATO headquarters. As a result of this twist, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called a session of the NATO leaders.

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Trump set the tone last night with a tweet: “What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy? Why are there only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.”

Trump has quipped about the U.S. going it alone before, only to have the administration walk back his comments. And still no comment from the White House or the State Department.

One EU diplomat with knowledge of the meeting said that it was a make or break moment.

Trump talks about U.S. ‘go it alone’ (11:26 a.m.)

NATO leaders hold an unscheduled meeting to discuss the alliance budget this morning, officials familiar with the matter said. One of the officials said the meeting takes place against the backdrop of Trump threatening allies to “go it alone” unless they agree to increase their defense budget immediately. A White House spokeswoman wasn’t immediately available to comment.

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