Wednesday September 19th, 2018 8:59PM

The Latest: Trump says US pullout 'no longer necessary'

By The Associated Press
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BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's trip to Europe (all times local):

12:45 a.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he probably can withdraw the U.S. from NATO but that such a step is no longer necessary.

Published reports Thursday said Trump had threatened during the NATO summit in Brussels to pull the U.S. out of the military alliance in a dispute over defense spending.

Trump says at a news conference that he was "extremely unhappy" with the situation, but that alliance members have upped their commitment in response to his complaints.

Asked whether he's still threatening to pull out of NATO and whether he can do so without buy-in from Congress, Trump said: "I think I probably can but that's unnecessary."

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12:30 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he told NATO allies that he was "extremely unhappy" with the level of defense spending but received a commitment from the member nations for them to spend more.

Trump says during a news conference in Brussels that NATO members have agreed to pursue defense spending of at least 2 percent of their GDP at a faster rate than the current 2024 timeline.

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12:30 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump says the U.S. commitment to NATO "remains very strong" despite reports that he threated to pull out in a dispute over defense spending.

Trump says at a news conference Thursday in Brussels that he told "people" that he would be "very unhappy" if they didn't increase their commitments.

Trump says the U.S. has been paying "probably 90 percent of the costs of NATO."

Trump adds that he was "extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment."

NATO had no immediate comment.

Trump once declared NATO "obsolete." He says Thursday: "I believe in NATO."

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump plans to make a statement at the NATO summit in Brussels.

The White House says the president will address reporters before he departs for the United Kingdom, the next stop on his weeklong visit to Europe.

The statement follows tense discussions at the summit over Trump's criticism of most NATO allies for not spending 2 percent of their GDP on defense as well as his demand that they immediately double such spending. Trump also criticized Germany over a natural gas pipeline deal with Russia.

Two officials at the summit say the alliance is currently meeting in an emergency session amid Trump's demands.

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9:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump has arrived at NATO headquarters, where he's attending a second day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance.

Trump was running behind schedule Thursday morning and arrived at the Brussels site a good half an hour later than expected.

A meeting of the North Atlantic Council with Georgia and Ukraine that Trump was scheduled to attend was called into order around 8:50 a.m. Trump arrived around 9:15 a.m.

Other leaders have also been trickling in, and continue to arrive after Trump.

The president is expected to meet with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia before he travels to London Thursday.

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8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is continuing to hammer NATO nations over their defense spending as he prepares for a second day of meetings in Brussels.

Trump says presidents have been trying to get "Germany and other rich NATO Nations" to pay toward protection from Russia.

He says the U.S. "pays tens of Billions of Dollars too much to subsidize Europe" and is demanding members meet their pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense. He says it "must ultimately" go to 4 percent.

Trump's railing against a German pipeline deal with Russia, saying it's "Not acceptable!"

He's also weighing in on news from the Russia investigation that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page is resisting a subpoena.

Trump alleges, "So much corruption on the other side. Where is the Attorney General?"

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8:25 a.m.

President Donald Trump will be meeting with the leaders of Azerbaijan, Romania, Ukraine and Georgia as he kicks off his second day at the NATO summit in Brussels.

The president will also be attending a pair of meetings of the North Atlantic Council before he departs for the United Kingdom.

Trump's first day of meetings with leaders of the military alliance was contentious, with Trump demanding nations spend far more on defense and accusing Germany of being "totally controlled" by Russia because of a pipeline project.

Trump's next stop will be London, where he'll be meeting with Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Theresa May.

May's government is in turmoil over how to exit the European Union following the Brexit vote.

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6:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump is tearing into this week's NATO summit. He's questioning the value of a military alliance that has defined decades of American foreign policy, torching an ally and proposing a massive increase in European defense spending.

Trump on Wednesday turned a harsh spotlight on Germany's own ties to Russia. He declared that a natural gas pipeline venture with Moscow has left Angela Merkel's government "totally controlled" and "captive" to Russia.

The attack against a core ally comes days before Trump is set to meet one-on-one with Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Trump questioned the necessity of the alliance that formed a bulwark against Soviet aggression.

He tweeted after a day of contentious meetings: "What good is NATO if Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars for gas and energy?"

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