US President Donald Trump held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron at the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday, hours after he strongly criticized the German policy on defense spending and gas imports from Russia.
The tone of their comments when they addressed reporters afterward seemed formal after Trump said that Germany`s dependence on Russian energy left it “in the control” of Moscow and Merkel later referred to her youth in East Germany directed by the Soviets to insist that Berlin was now fully sovereign.
"We`re having a big meeting, we`re discussing military spending ... talking about trade," Trump told reporters who were able to enter the meeting room.
Trump lashed out vigorously at Germany, at the start of the annual NATO summit in Brussels, because of its support for the Baltic Sea gas pipeline agreement with Russia, accusing Germany of being a "captive" of Russia.
During a heated breakfast meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, Trump said that Germany pays billions of dollars to Russia and that "we have to defend them against Russia."
Trump also said it was "very inappropriate" that the United States was paying much more to defend Europe than other NATO members, repeating a constant complaint raised in recent days in both oral comments and on Twitter. Trump has demanded that NATO members contribute more money to the defense alliance that has been the key piece of Western military cooperation after the Second World War.
Stoltenberg rejected Trump`s comments and stressed that NATO members have been able to work together despite their differences.
The dramatic exchange marked the tone of what was already expected to be a tense day of meetings with the leaders of the military alliance.