During brief remarks to reporters, he mostly praised Trump's approach. Trump accused Berlin of being under the control of Moscow, citing a new pipeline project that will supply Russian gas directly to Germany.
"This is very confusing", another senior European diplomat said. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said this is not a formal proposal and that Trump had merely "suggested" this increase. It doesn't make any sense.
The two percent of gross domestic product spending target is originally scheduled for 2024.
Rachel Rizzo, who works on Europe and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation issues at the Center for a New American Security, said that while it is positive that allies have reversed years of decreases in defense spending, pegging defense spending to an arbitrary percentage is problematic. As a result, he continued, "NATO is much stronger than it was two days ago". Instead, they said, members reaffirmed the need to stay on track with military-budget increases that have already been underway and were branded insufficient by Trump a day earlier.
Another 31 percent of respondents said that they believe that Putin will emerge from the summit with a "better deal", while 24 percent predicted that Trump will see a better outcome. USA defense spending accounts for roughly 67% of this, but it's also true the United States has the highest defense budget in the world by far and this is linked to both its strong economy and internal politics.
"Allies are spending more thanks to the President", the diplomat said. "Last year was the biggest increase in 25 years".
Trump: "Only five of 29 countries were making their commitment and that's now changed".
"Germany just started paying Russian Federation, the country they want protection from, Billions of Dollars for their Energy needs coming out of a new pipeline from Russian Federation". The only time it's been invoked was for the USA, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. "I don't know him well enough", Trump said, leaving open the possibility. It took a third question from Blitzer - "so that is a yes?" - before Haber responded with a definitive "yes". "No doubt was cast on the credibility of Article 5".
Merkel told reporters there followed a discussion with assurances to Trump that spending was increasing - something he later acknowledged was happening at an unprecedented rate.
"Targeting Merkel, especially her immigration strategy in the past, is exactly what he wants to attack", the diplomat said, noting that Trump's previous criticism of the German leader's immigration policy has resonated with his own political base at home.
"She has allowed in a lot of immigrants". But I would also encourage the president to exercise caution with Russian Federation - which has proven to be a hostile nation to the United States and our Western allies.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, talks to U.S. President Donald Trump as British Prime Minister Theresa May, right watches at the opening ceremony of the NATO summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Many have already settled their 2019 budgets and the sums involved are huge - even if they wanted to, many would struggle to make useful purchases.
Trump is reported to have spoken of "grave consequences" if allies did not meet their 2 percent of GDP defense spending targets, saying that the United States could "go our own way" if his demands were not met.
"We are not going to finance it for them but we will make sure that they are able to get payments and various other things so they can buy - because the United States makes by far the best military equipment in the world: the best jets, the best missiles, the best guns, the best everything".