American sanctions on Russia will remain, President Donald Trump said today reiterating that certain countries in Europe who are being protected by the US are paying tremendous amounts of money to Russia.
"We are supposed to protect countries from Russia, but they're paying Russia billions and billions of dollars for the energy. Not good. Not a good situation. And I let it be known," Trump said at a White House joint news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Responding to a question, Trump singled out Germany again. "Germany's paying 1 per cent (to NATO). A little more than 1 per cent. And they're buying and paying tremendous amounts of money to Russia," he alleged.
Trump claimed that after he raised the issue of other NATO members not meeting their financial commitments, several European countries have started giving their due. "I went to NATO, and NATO was essentially going out of business because people weren't paying and it was going down, down, down. You just have to look at the line," he said.
"I came along last year. In a fairly nice tone I said, 'You've got to pay'. And they paid USD 44 billion more. This year, I said it in a little bit stronger tone. They are paying hundreds of billions of dollars more over the years," he said.
Noting that NATO will be strong again, Trump reiterated that the US was treated very unfairly by other NATO member countries.
"The United States was treated very, very unfairly because we're shouldering anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of NATO. That's not fair. It's not fair," he said.
Trump said he had a "great" meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki early this month. "Of course the fake news didn't cover it that way, but I had a great meeting with President Putin of Russia," he said.
"I think it was a great meeting in terms of the future, in terms of safety and economic development and protecting Israel and protecting everybody, I thought it was a great meeting," he asserted. Similarly he said he had a great meeting with NATO.
Conte said Italy is open to talks with Russia, which has an important role in global politics. "We must accept and sit at the table and negotiate in our dialogue with those who aren't counterparts. As far as this sanction system specifically is concerned, I'm well aware that system stemming from the Minsk Agreement is the outcome and is connected to the implementation of the Minsk Agreement," he said.
"So it is clear that it is unthinkable today to lift overnight those sanctions. However, exactly because we are open to dialogue with Russia, the position of my government is to make sure that the system of sanctions doesn't affect the civic society, doesn't affect the economy of the small and medium size enterprises in Russia," Conte said.
Trump said that sanctions on Russia will continue.
"Sanctions on Russia will remain as is. As far as a pipeline is concerned, I'd like to see a competing pipeline," Trump said hoping that Italy will be able to do that competing pipeline.
"We are already talking to the European Union about building anywhere from nine to 11 ports, which they will pay for, so that we can ship to various parts of Europe, and that will be more competition. But the sanctions on Russia will remain as is," Trump said.
(This article has not been edited by Zeebiz editorial team and is auto-generated from an agency feed.)