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Canada  

Trudeau answers Trump

Donald Trump boasted Thursday of singlehandedly winning commitments from his fellow NATO leaders to meet and exceed a defence spending target of two per cent of GDP — even though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke only of continuing with Canada's existing military plan.

At a news conference wrapping up the two-day NATO summit in Brussels, Trudeau was pressed to provide more details about the U.S. president's sudden insistence that allies have agreed to spend more — and to do it more quickly.

Trudeau said he did agree to uphold Canada's commitment to the 2014 Wales NATO summit pledge on defence investment, but took pains to point out the declaration technically states NATO allies would merely "aim to move towards" the two per cent guideline within a decade.

"That is something we certainly agree with," Trudeau told a news conference.

During his own news conference Thursday, Trump was asked how he would increase pressure on Canada, Germany and Italy if any of the three failed to meet the two per cent target.

"Well, they will," he responded. "I have no doubt about it. They all made commitments and they will be up to two per cent. It will be over a relatively short period of years."

Trudeau was not the only leader who seemed at odds with Trump's understanding of what emerged from an emergency meeting of NATO leaders that derailed the final sessions of the summit's closing day and set off another firestorm of controversy with the U.S. president at its centre.

French President Emmanuel Macron quickly disputed Trump's claim that NATO allies had agreed to boost defence spending beyond the two per cent benchmark, citing the group's communique that lays out the original goal.

Trudeau touted his government's long-awaited defence policy review, released last June, as the answer to Trump's latest demands for more spending from NATO allies. And he said Canada has promised to reverse a decline in military resources with an eye towards the two per cent target.

Including that commitment, however, Canada's current defence spending plans are only expected to bring it to 1.4 per cent of GDP by 2024 — well short of the Wales target.



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