American grumbles that Europeans don’t pay enough for their own defence are nothing new.
But there were pained looks across the faces of NATO leaders as US President Donald Trump bluntly told them that Uncle Sam is not willing to hand the continent a blank cheque.
Trump said: “Twenty-three of 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defence. This is not fair to the people and the tax payers of the USA. If all NATO members had spent just 2% of their GDP on defence last year we would have another 119 billion dollars for our collective defence and for the financing of additional NATO reserves.”
Hiking defence spending is still a sore subject, but leaders are united in fighting in ISIL, according to Angela Merkel.
“NATO will now also formally join the alliance against ISIL. After all, member states have done so, as well as the EU. I think this is a strong signal, but it’s also clear this does not entail any further contribution by Germany beyond what we are doing at the moment.”
Diplomats quoted by the AFP news agency said France, Germany and Italy had opposed such a move, fearing that they would eventually have to put boots on the ground and risk souring ties with Arab nations.