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Trump hits Germany and other 'delinquent' NATO countries for lack of defense spending

Paul Best

President Donald Trump criticized “delinquent” NATO countries during an Oval Office press conference with the president of Poland on Wednesday, noting that Poland is one of only eight countries other than the United States who is spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

“They're delinquent, too, with respect to their dues, the money they're supposed to be paying for defense,” Trump said. “So the United States is defending a lot of countries. They're delinquent on what they're supposed to be paying. And I never feel too good about that.”

NATO established the Defense Investment Pledge in 2014, which calls for all member nations to eventually spend 2 percent of GDP on defense.

According to a November 2019 NATO report, only eight countries other than the United States are meeting that goal: Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Greece and Bulgaria. The United States spends 3.42 percent of its GDP on defense.

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Trump specifically took aim at Germany on Wednesday for not contributing enough money.

“Germany's paying a very small fraction of what they're supposed to be paying,” Trump said. “They should be paying 2 percent and they're paying a little bit more than 1 percent, depending on how you calculate.”

Germany spends 1.38 percent of its GDP on defense, according to NATO.

Earlier this month, Trump ordered the Pentagon to remove nearly 10,000 troops from Germany, which is about a third of the U.S. presence there. He said Wednesday that some of those troops will probably move from Germany to Poland.

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“We're going to be reducing Germany very substantially, down to about 25,000 troops,” Trump said Wednesday. “Some will be coming home and some will be going to other places. But Poland would be one of those other places, other places in Europe.”

Trump pledged last summer to send 1,000 more American troops to Poland to fend off potential Russian aggression.

Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, is the first head of state to visit the White House since the coronavirus pandemic began. He faces an election on Sunday.

“He's doing a terrific job. The people of Poland think the world of him,” Trump said Wednesday. “He will do very well with or without us. He's going to have a great success and Poland is going to continue on.”

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