Donald Trump claimed a personal victory at a NATO summit on Thursday after telling European allies to increase spending or lose Washington's support, an ultimatum that forced leaders to huddle in a crisis session with the U.S. president.
Trump emerged declaring his continued commitment to a Western alliance built on U.S. military might that has stood up to Moscow since World War Two.
People present said he had earlier warned he would “go it alone” if allies, notably Germany, did not make vast increases in their defense budgets for next year.
“I let them know that I was extremely unhappy,” he said, but added that the talks ended on the best of terms: “It all came together at the end. It was a little tough for a little while.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who called the summit “very intense”, and other leaders including French President Emmanuel Macron, played down the extent to which they had pledged to accelerate spending plans as fast as Trump wanted.
“He said they must raise spending by January 2019 or the United States would go it alone,” one person said of the clash at NATO headquarters when Trump spoke in a debate that was meant to move to other matters after rows over spending on Wednesday.