President TrumpDonald John TrumpEx-Russia ambassador: Trump has done more damage to NATO in months than Russia has in decades Trump takes credit for increased defense spending by NATO allies, but says ‘it isn’t nearly enough’ Trump questions how Russia probe can ‘proceed’ given FBI agent’s private comments MORE said Thursday that other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to “substantially up” their defense spending commitments.
Trump did not provide specifics in a press conference after the NATO summit, but touted his repeated calls for allies to contribute more to the alliance produced results.
“Tremendous progress has been made. Everyone’s agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they’ve never thought of before,” Trump said in Brussels.
“Commitments were made,” he added. “The commitment was at 2 percent, ultimately that’ll be going up quite a bit higher than that.”
Pres. Trump announces that NATO member countries have agreed to “substantially up their commitment” to defense spending. https://t.co/bEc6EhADfo pic.twitter.com/iOZiA6EkYV
– ABC News (@ABC) July 12, 2018
The Associated Press reported, however, that French President Emmanuel Macron denied that NATO allies will increase defense spending beyond previously set goals.
Multiple reports indicated that Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO if other countries did not commit to a spending hike. The president did not deny those reports during his press conference, instead saying he was “very firm” with allies.
“I told people I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially,” Trump said.
“I think I can probably can (pull out of NATO), but that’s unnecessary, and the people have stepped up today like they’ve never stepped up before,” Trump added.
The president spent much of his time in Belgium continuing to rail against what he perceives as unfair discrepancies in how much each NATO member contributes to defense spending. Trump has long complained that the U.S. shoulders an unfair amount of costs for the alliance.
While he has said in recent days that allies are “delinquent,” and should reimburse the U.S. for spending, each country contributes money to its own defense budget, not toward the alliance or any one country.
NATO members agreed in 2014 to spend at least 2 percent of their respective gross domestic product on defense by 2024.
Trump upended that goal during this week’s meetings, first requesting that members hike their commitment from 2 percent to 4 percent.
He later pressed allies to hit the goal “immediately” rather than through a gradual increase.