President Trump suggested NATO countries double their defense spending goal to 4% of GDP Wednesday, just hours after harshly criticizing Germany for their trade relationship with Russia. Trump has been a longtime critic of NATO spending, arguing that it is unfair the U.S. contributes more than other member states.
“President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligation,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg suggested that the group should be more focused on having all member states reach the current spending goal of 2% of GDP, the Washington Post reports. As of now, only eight of NATO’s 29 member states are on track to reach this goal this year. An increase to 4% of GDP would be a stretch for many nations — even the U.S. spent less than that last year, albeit close at 3.6% of GDP.
Trump’s suggestion is drastic, but not surprising. On his way to the NATO summit, he said the U.S. spending on NATO is “not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,” and other NATO countries should pay more.
Stoltenberg commented on Trump’s statements at a news conference, but chose to focus on the positives, Politico reported.
“We do have disagreements,” he said. “But most importantly we have decisions that are pushing the alliance forward and making us stronger.”