Trump arrives in Belgium ahead of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, visits with May, Putin

Donald and Melania Trump

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Although the 29-member military alliance's annual meetings have traditionally been fairly by-the-books events, expectations are different this year - thanks, in large, to Donald Trump.

Trump's comment came in response to a question by at the White House just minutes after he was admonished by European Commission President Donald Tusk in response to Trump's repeated slams on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance members who fail to meet spending commitments on defense.

Trump will meet the Russian leader in the Finnish capital on July 16 for their first summit amid an ongoing investigation in the U.S. into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

"I would like to directly address President Trump, who has for a long time now been criticising Europe nearly daily, for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defence capabilities, and for living off the US".

But a Europe that better defends itself and buys more American gas gives Trump another advantage because it makes Europe more resilient militarily and less dependent on Russian gas.

"America, appreciate your allies - after all, you don't have that many". The Europeans abhor Trump's decision to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on a part of the world that is supposed to be the United States' partner.

Trump will visit Britain and meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland's capital Helsinki after his stay in Brussels. It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? Trump then heads to Helsinki to meet Putin.

Similarly, earlier on Tuesday the president tweeted, "Getting ready to leave for Europe".

At around the same time Tusk was speaking, Trump was tweeting ahead of his trip to Europe - and reiterating his calls for European NATO members to spend more on defense.

Trump has, meanwhile, delivered on USA commitments to Europe.

"On top of that, we $151 billion on trade with the European Union".

While NATO members increased overall defense spending in 2017, for a second consecutive year, the United States was still largely outspending all other members.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman said he hoped Mr Trump would have a positive image of Britain following his visit this week after Mr Trump's remarks on the UK's "turmoil".

Europe's biggest economy is on course to spend just 1.24 per cent of GDP on defence in 2018.

European Union leaders have been rattled by a recent encounter with Trump at the G7 summit in Canada, where the USA president belittled his democratic allies.

The 1.5 percent level forecast for NATO's European members in 2018 compares to 1.46 percent a year ago, 1.44 percent in 2016 and 1.42 percent in 2015.

While it's true that the U.S. provides roughly 22% of NATO's budget, this percentage is based off a carefully crafted formula that includes factors such as the size of a member state's economy.

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