Trump Slams Germany Over Gas Imports From Russia

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Though she said that Germany did have "a lot of issues with Russian Federation", she noted that it was important to "keep the communication line between countries or alliances and opponents" open. According to Stoltenberg, eight countries would meet the 2 percent target this year and a "majority" put forward plans to do so by 2020 - compared to only three countries who were meeting the commitment in 2014.

Still, Trump is using the 4-percent-argument to ram home his message that the US gets a bad deal from allies. We're stronger together than apart.

The comments will have made for uncomfortable viewing for the rest of Nato's 29 members, whose officials have voiced fears that Mr Trump could undermine the alliance during the gathering.

The mercurial tycoon said before leaving Washington that his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday "may be the easiest" part of his European tour, which also includes a trip to Britain, where the government is in crisis over Brexit.

As the day began, Trump wasted no time going on the offensive as he began a week of high-stakes diplomacy on both sides of the former Cold War divide.

"We're supposed to protect you against Russian Federation but they're paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation and I think that's very inappropriate", Trump said, repeatedly describing Germany as "captive to Russia" because of the energy deal.

The comments received a swift and sharp rebuke from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"So we're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries and then numerous of these countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia", Trump said.

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"I'm very glad that today we are united in freedom. because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions".

This is not the first time Trump has taken aim at Nord Stream 2.

Trump's words about the upcoming Putin meeting contrasted sharply with the way in which he assailed Germany as he arrived in Brussels.

Stoltenberg responded by emphasizing NATO's unity.

"It was also because of your leadership", Stoltenberg told Trump. "Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem".

"The pipeline gets cheap Russian gas to Germany while bypassing smaller Eastern European nations, allowing Russia to pressure them while Germany is held harmless", he tweeted, adding: "No amount of preening in Berlin will cover this nakedly selfish policy". Chief of Staff John Kelly jerked his head away as US Ambassador to Nato Kay Bailey Hutchison looked up at the ceiling.

Trump, Smith said, "upended world order in the way that no president has". "And it can't be explained, and you know that".

Sen. Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, also criticized Trump's rhetoric. Munich's Süddeutsche Zeitung headlined its story: "It is not only bad, it is catastrophic". The former USA secretary of state and MA senator questioned if the president, who has long railed against North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, understood the "huge difference" the group has made for the United States and Europe.

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