WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump told European Council President Donald Tusk on Tuesday that the United States has many allies, in response to the European leader’s statement that the North American country ought to appreciate the allies it has because it doesn’t have many.
“We do have a lot of allies but we cannot be taken advantage of,” Trump retorted. “We’re being taken advantage of by the European Union.”
“The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them (NATO nations). Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union,” Trump tweeted before boarding the presidential aircraft Air Force One on his way to Brussels.
These remarks came soon after Tusk urged Trump to “appreciate your allies” because “you don’t have all that many,” adding that “the U.S. doesn’t have and won’t have a better ally than EU.”
Trump will arrive Tuesday night in Brussels to take part in a two-day summit of leaders of the NATO military alliance, before traveling to the UK and then winding up his European tour on July 16 in Helsinki, where he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The president has been very critical in recent weeks about the funding of NATO and the fact that the United States is the biggest contributor. “Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer,” he tweeted.
“NATO countries must pay MORE, the United States must pay LESS,” Trump added.
A point of tension is the White House demand that its European allies allocate at least 2 percent of their GNP to defense between now and 2024. Trump is pushing them to reach that goal as soon as possible, a goal that only eight of the 29 allies fulfill at present.