17:40 GMT +318 February 2019
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    European Union Council President Donald Tusk  (File)

    EU's Tusk to Trump: 'Please Respect Your Allies, You Don't Have That Many'

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    Tensions between Washington and Brussels continue to escalate further as US President Donald Trump's stance on NATO defense spending and trade remains unchanged.

    "Dear America, appreciate your allies, after all you don't have that many," Tusk said addressing Trump at the signing ceremony of the Joint Declaration on EU-NATO cooperation, stressing that the United States would never find a better ally than Europe.

    He also slammed the US president for "criticizing Europe almost daily."

    READ MORE: US to Use EU Stance on Iran Deal to Pressure NATO Over Defense Spending — Prof

    Earlier in the day, Trump in a tweet heavily criticized the EU's approach to trade ahead of the upcoming summit between the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

    Meanwhile, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance's member states made the biggest increase in defense spending in a generation in 2017.

    "We’ll release 2018 defence spending estimates for each Ally: last year saw the biggest increase in a generation & this is the 4th consecutive year of real increases + we expect 8 Allies to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence compared to 3 in 2014," Stoltenberg said as quoted by NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu.

    Stoltenberg also said that since 2014 all the member states have stopped the cuts in defense spending.

    Trump has often accuses members of the military alliance of freeloading off the United States. The president aired his gripe again on Monday, just days before a two-day NATO summit later this week. The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other country, Trump said, adding that the countries have been increasing their contributions since he took office in January 2017, but they must do much more.

    The Trump administration has repeatedly pressured European states to inject greater sums in NATO, citing most EU countries' inability to meet the alliance's defense spending target of 2 percent of their GDP, stressing that NATO benefits Europe much more than the United States.


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