Trump gears up for meeting with "competitor" Putin after rocky North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit

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US President Donald Trump gestures as he holds a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018.

"There are very strong views and positions", Stoltenberg said. Apparently Donald Trump wants it to be more and he wants it now.

"I don't even know if it is a good measure and fits our collective security", he said. "That is, are we really committed to the same goals and to the future of the organization?" Tensions rose on the final day of the two-day summit, when members met in an emergency session amid demands from Trump to speed up defense spending. At the same breakfast (and on several other occasions later in the day), Trump blasted German Chancellor Angela Merkel for an energy deal her country has with Russian Federation, saying they are "totally controlled by Russian Federation", and a "captive" of the country.

That might fall on deaf ears in the US, but MacKay said it's an important factor in stabilizing the alliance.

Currently, all leaders were in a "confused state" because everyone was wondering what the condition for the four per cent meant, and the extent to which Trump was serious, Radev said. "There's a great collegial spirit in that room that I don't think they've had in many years". But also, that we are doing this already since many years. "That was not on Trump's watch", he said.

But French president Emmanuel Macron denied there had been an agreement to boost spending over 2%.

"That's all", said Macron, who also denied talk of Trump threatening to withdraw from the alliance. "It's very detailed", Macron said, according to the AP. "It confirms the goal of 2 percent by 2024".

It's a playbook Trump has followed before: Trump claimed world-altering success following last month's meeting with Kim Jong Un, when he stated that North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat" after their historic summit in Singapore. "I made the point for Germany that we know we have to do more". "The additional money they will be putting up has been really incredible".

"I told people that I would be very unhappy if they didn't up their commitments very substantially, because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount", Trump said.

When asked about that, Trump said he believed he could do that without Congressional approval but it was "not necessary".

At the moment, Trump has raised the bar even further and quite insistently talks about 4 percent. "I'm very consistent", he replied.

"I'm a very stable genius", he said.

The alliance, which sees an attack on one member as an attack on all, was set up at the height of the Cold War, as a counterbalance to the Warsaw Pact between the Soviets and their satellite states.

Another NATO diplomat said Trump trampled on protocol by pointing at some leaders he said were not spending enough and addressing Merkel by her first name, referring to her as "you, Angela".

In the UK, Trump will spend time with the Queen and the Prime Minister before flying to Scotland to spend the weekend at his golf resort.

In his article titled "NATO's Binary moment" in The American Interest magazine, Michta notes that Russian Federation is seen as a "threat that surrounds everything" by Norway, the Baltic States, Poland and Romania.

It's an uncomfortable environment for May, who is facing her own political unrest outside of Trump's visit. He described the a "hot-spot with lots of resignations". The U.S.'s agenda is focused on China's growing challenge.

Then, in a head-snapping pivot at the end, on Thursday (Thursday night NZ Time) he declared the alliance a "fine-tuned machine" that had acceded to his demands to speed up increases in military spending.