United States President Donald Trump wants Belgium to increase its military spending now that it’s expected to host American troops after they withdrew from Germany, he said on Wednesday.
Nearly 12,000 US troops will be withdrawing from Germany in the coming years after Trump said that the country didn’t spend enough on NATO and was taking advantage of US contributions.
Belgium and Italy, who will both host US troops, fail to reach the military spending target of 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) set by NATO, but Trump is determined to change that.
“I told them: you will pay,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News. NATO’s target for military spending was accepted in 2014 by all NATO member states, but far from all countries reach this target.
Trump has made meeting his commitment to reach the target of 2% of GDP by 2024 a foreign policy priority, occasionally even talking about doubling it.
He has described Germany’s contributions to NATO as a “tremendous delinquency” and criticised Germany for being too dependent on gas supplied by Russia, referring to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project.
Germany is expected to spend 1.42% of its GDP on defence in 2020, while Belgium and Italy spent 0.93% and 1.21% respectively of their GDP in 2019.
In this interview with Fox News, the American President also took credit for the fact that several allies have increased their defence spending, while criticising his predecessor, Democrat Barack Obama, for his inaction in this area.
“The United States was paying for everybody,” Trump asserted. “I said ‘you gotta pay.’ Bottom line, after one meeting we got $130 billion a year more, going to $400 billion.”
The Brussels Times