President Donald Trump said today that Germany owes "vast sums of money" to NATO and the US "must be paid more" for providing defence, reiterating his stance that European allies need to meet their end of the bargain if they are to continue benefiting from the military alliance.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel listens as President Donald Trump speaks during their joint news conference yesterday.
Source: Associated Press
Mr Trump's tweet from his Florida resort, where he is spending the weekend, came the day after his first meeting with Germany's leader.
Mr Trump and Merkel tried to sidestep their differences in their meeting at the White House yesterday but it was punctuated by some awkward moments.
During a photo op in the Oval Office, the two did not shake hands before reporters.
Later, during a joint news conference, Mr Trump pushed back against the notion in Europe that his "America First" agenda means he's an isolationist, calling such a suggestion "another example of, as you say, fake news."
And he referred to the United States as "a very powerful company," before quickly correcting that to "country."
When a German reporter asked Mr Trump if he regrets any of his commentary on Twitter, Mr Trump said, "Very seldom."
The new president reaffirmed the United States' "strong support" for NATO, but reiterated his stance that NATO allies need to "pay their fair share" for the cost of defence.
Mr Trump said at the press conference that many countries owe "vast sums of money" but he declined to identify Germany, at the time, as one of those nations.
Prior to his inauguration, Mr Trump declared NATO "obsolete" but has since modified his stance, telling European leaders the alliance remains of strategic importance.
Only the US and four other members currently reach the benchmark of spending two per cent of GDP on defence.
Germany currently spends 1.23 per cent of its GDP on defence, but it is being increased.
When the topic moved to trade, Mr Trump said the US would do "fantastically well" in its trade relations with Germany.
The president has been deeply critical of foreign trade and national security agreements but suggested he was only trying to revise trade deals to better serve US interests, rather than pull back from the world entirely.