Trump said that Germany still owes 'vast sums' to NATO and the United States 'must be paid'.
President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he had a "great" meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House on Friday despite media reports to the contrary, and reiterated that Germany owes "vast sums" of money to NATO.
"Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel...," Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. "Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"
The two leaders discussed NATO, with Trump underscoring the need for Germany to contribute a higher percentage of their GDP to the cost of defense. Though Trump had criticized NATO on the campaign trail, he reiterated his support for the the treaty at a press conference following the meeting, telling reporters that he isn't an "isolationist."
NATO members are supposed to contribute 2% of GDP to the treaty, though Germany only contributes 1.2%. The US, on the other hand, contributes 3.6% — almost double the requirement. Trump, like Obama before him — who said that he was "aggravated" by "free riders" in a 2016 interview with The Atlantic — has demanded that NATO members pay their fair share.
Trump and Merkel also discussed trade, with Trump telling reporters that German negotiators have done "a far better job" than negotiators for the US. However, the US enters trade agreements with the European Union as a whole, rather than bilaterally with Germany alone.
The two leaders displayed an at-times awkward demeanor toward each other. In one highly publicized moment, Trump appeared to snub Merkel's attempt at a handshake, though it's not clear if he heard her request.
Merkel was at the White House on Friday to, in part, mend relations with Trump, who frequently criticized Merkel during the 2016 campaign. Trump accused Merkel of "ruining Germany" for allowing thousands of Syrian and other refugees into the country.