According to NATO officials and diplomats, Trump has given alliance members until January to come up with a plan to reach the spending target.
The US president responded when asked if he had threatened to pull out of the historically anti-Russia alliance, and whether he could do so without first consulting Congress.
Trump ignored the first question, but on the second question, he said, “I think I can”. But the organisation was established by a formal and binding treaty, which means a US executive presidential decision to leave the alliance, such as the one pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal or the Paris climate agreement, will not be possible.
According to Politico, Trump warned his allies behind closed doors that the US “will do our own thing” if they do not pay up. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg then called an allies-only emergency session, requiring European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to leave the room.
As Trump threatens to pull out of the military alliance, a new poll shows that Germans would welcome an American troop withdrawal from their country, which has been present since the end of the Second World War.
Voters for the left-wing Die Linke are particularly in favour of withdrawal, with 67 per cent backing it, as are supporters of the far-right AfD, on 55 per cent. Greens also back withdrawal by 48 per cent, The Independent reported.
Less supportive of withdrawal were voters for the Angela Merkel’s CDU, at 35 per cent, the SPD at 42 per cent, and the FDP at 37 per cent.
At an emergency press conference, Trump however said a “tremendous amount of progress” had been made and that NATO was now “much stronger” with spending “rocketing” upwards.