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Trump claims win in NATO spending dispute


AFP
BRUSSELS
DONALD Trump said NATO leaders agreed Thursday to a big boost in defence spending after crisis talks in Brussels, but France's Emmanuel Macron appeared to contradict the US president.
Trump claimed victory after bitterly criticising key allies, notably Germany, for failing to pay their way at one of the most fractious summits in NATO's 70-year history.
He triggered an emergency session on the spending issue, before emerging from the turmoil to say"I believe in NATO" in response to reports that he had threatened to pull out.
"Tremendous progress has been made, everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment, they're going to up it at levels they've never thought of before," Trump told a press conference before leaving for a visit to Britain.
"It's been amazing to see the level of spirit in that room."
Trump blazed into the summit on Wednesday by demanding that allies reach their commitment to increase spending to two percent of GDP"immediately" -- instead of by 2024 as previously agreed. He then stunned allies by telling them to eventually double the figure to a punishing four percent.
But Macron disputed Trump's claims, saying that the joint statement the leaders had signed went no further than what had previously been agreed, apart from setting out how some countries plan to get there.
"The communique is clear: it reaffirms the commitment to two percent (of GDP)," said Macron, who was photographed smiling and sharing a hug with Trump on Wednesday despite recent tensions between the two.
In an apparent swipe at Trump, he added:"Sometimes the corridors, comments and tweets take on more importance than what is negotiated, said or endorsed by heads of state."
Macron however added that he thought NATO was now"much stronger" and dismissed reports that Trump had threatened to pull the United States out of NATO if the spending row was not resolved.

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