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France, Italy reject Trump's claim on NATO spending boost

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) and US President Donald Trump sit before their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium, on July 11, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron says, unlike what his American counterpart Donald Trump has claimed, NATO is not planning to increase military spending beyond the current levels.

Trump jolted a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, saying in his closing remarks that NATO members had agreed to "up their commitment" and dedicate four percent of their GDP to defense instead of the current two percent.

Macron, however, disputed the remarks in a news conference and said there were no such arrangements.

“There is a communiqué that was published yesterday. It’s very detailed,” the Associated Press quoted Macron as saying. “It confirms the goal of two percent by 2024. That’s all.”

“I don’t even know if it is a good measure and fits our collective security,” he said of Trump's proposed spending increase.

In 2014, NATO countries agreed to meet the current spending target over the next decade. The alliance has estimated that only 15 members, or just over half, will be able to hit the benchmark by then.

Frustrated by the lack of "burden-sharing," Trump has time and again threatened to leave the alliance if others fail to step up contributions.

The emergency NATO session came after reports emerged that the American head of state was going to leave the alliance and pull all US forces from Europe.

Macron disputed those claims as well.

“President Trump never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO,” the French head of state said.

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte also echoed Macron and dismissed Trump's claim about a spending hike.

"Italy has inherited spending commitments as far as the contribution to NATO concerns which we have not altered. Therefore there is no additional spending," he said Thursday.

“My ears didn’t hear Trump threaten to leave NATO. So I can’t confirm this news. If he said something on the side I don’t know,” he added

During the session, Trump further rattled NATO leaders by urging them to complete the two-percent milestone by January.

“I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they did not up their commitments very substantially,” he told reporters. “Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They’re going to up it at levels that they’ve never thought of before.”

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