• The New York Times has live coverage of his trip, from our White House reporters and European correspondents. Photographs from Mr. Trump’s weeklong trip are here.
Trump says he is committed to NATO, despite criticism
Mr. Trump strongly recommitted American support for NATO on Thursday, declaring, “I believe in NATO.”
At a news conference in Brussels, he insisted that despite his criticism of the alliance and some of its member countries, there was no animosity in private meetings with other leaders.
“There’s a great, very collegial spirit in that room,” he said. “Very unified, very strong, no problem”
If Mr. Trump’s public remarks were friendly, the tone behind closed doors was much harsher.
According to a person briefed on Mr. Trump’s meeting with other NATO leaders, Mr. Trump said that if the other countries did not meet the 2 percent standard by January, the United States “would go it alone.”
What that would mean was not clear to the officials who were present. White House officials did not immediately respond to requests to explain Mr. Trump’s comment, or to say whether he was suggesting that the United States could withdraw from NATO.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, dismissed such concerns as unfounded.
“Generally I do not comment on what goes on behind the scenes, but at no moment did President Trump — neither bilaterally nor multilaterally — say that he was intending to leave NATO,” Mr. Macron said.
Mr. Trump has not held a news conference on American soil for more than a year. But on Thursday, flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, he took questions from reporters for over a half an hour.
He dismissed any concern that his relationship with Russia was too cozy or that his relationship with allies was too harsh. — Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger
Trump says NATO agreed to spending increases. Macron disagrees.
Mr. Trump said that other NATO countries had agreed to significant increases in military spending in response to his demands.
A short time later, Mr. Macron, the French president, said the allies had simply agreed to keep previous commitments to increase military spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2024.
“A communiqué was issued yesterday,” Mr. Macron said. “This communiqué is clear. It reaffirms the 2 percent by 2024 commitments. That’s all.”
Mr. Trump has insisted that NATO countries meet the 2 percent threshold right away, and that the long-term target be doubled to 4 percent.
“The additional money that they’re willing to put up has been really amazing,” Mr. Trump said, without addressing amounts or a timetable. “Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment.”
Mr. Trump once again hailed himself as a “very stable genius” and took “total credit” for persuading his allies to increase military spending. And he took credit for other NATO countries having increased their military spending by $33 billion in the last year.
“I don‘t think that’s helping Russia,” he said. “I think NATO is much stronger now than it was two days ago.”
— Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger
Russian gas pipeline to Germany is a big problem, Trump says
At his news conference and on Twitter, Mr. Trump returned repeatedly to the topic of the $10 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline being built to take Russian natural gas to Germany.
He said on Wednesday that Germany was “captive” to Russia because of its dependence on Russian gas. While Germany pays billions of dollars a year for Russian energy, he said, the United States spends billions to protect Germany from Russia.
“We have to figure out what’s going on with the pipeline,” Mr. Trump said on Thursday. “I brought it up, nobody brought it up but me.”
In fact, concerns with the pipeline date back to the Obama administration.
“Presidents have been trying unsuccessfully for years to get Germany and other rich NATO Nations to pay more toward their protection from Russia,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter before arriving for meetings, repeating gripes he aired on Wednesday. “They pay only a fraction of their cost. The U.S. pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe, and loses Big on Trade!” — Katie Rogers and Julie Hirschfeld Davis