Trump to NATO: Unpaid dues unfair to U.S. taxpayers

President Donald Trump spoke at the NATO headquarters in Brussels Thursday, delivering a stern message and putting pressure once again on NATO members to pay their fair share, which he said should be more than the current 2 percent-of-GDP threshold.

“NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations … even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient to close the gaps [caused by chronic underpayments over the years],” the president said before all 27 other foreign ministers.

President Trump also noted the U.S. has spent more on defense over the past eight years than all other NATO members combined. The United States contributed more than 22 percent of the organization’s budget in 2016, according to White House data, far outpacing all other members. The government spent 3.6 percent of GDP, or $664 billion, on defense. Out of all 28 countries that belonged to NATO at the start of this year, only five met the minimum contribution level in 2016—the U.S., Greece, the U.K., Estonia and Poland.

President Trump said the financial burden on the U.S. is “unfair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” while estimating that if all 28 member countries had met their financial obligations last year NATO would have an extra $119 billion in the coffer to deploy for “collective defense and for financing of additional NATO reserves.”

The Trump administration has floated the idea of asking NATO members who haven’t met the contribution threshold over recent years to pay back payments.

President Trump began his speech Thursday by requesting a moment of silence for the victims of the bombing in Manchester on Monday, calling the terror attack “barbaric and vicious.”

On Thursday British Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will confront President Trump at the summit about White House leaks to the media related to the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday.