US President Donald Trump claims victory at NATO summit

Donald Trump
Donald Trump Photo credit: Reuters

US President Donald Trump has hailed a personal victory at a NATO summit, saying allies have sharply increased defence spending commitments after he provoked a crisis session with a tirade at European leaders.

"I told people that I would be very unhappy if they didn't up their commitments," an ebullient president told reporters after the second day of the Brussels meeting on Thursday, when NATO leaders huddled with Trump to try to defuse a crisis.

"I let them know that I was extremely unhappy," he said but added that the talks had ended on the best of terms: "It all came together at the end. It was a little tough for a little while."

Officials at the meeting said Trump had shocked many present and broke with diplomatic protocol by addressing German Chancellor Merkel by her first name, telling her: "Angela, you need to do something about this".

Most officials and the invited leaders of non-NATO Afghanistan and Georgia were ushered out.

Others in the room, including the Lithuanian president whose country is among the most nervous of Russian ambitions, denied a suggestion Trump had threatened to quit the alliance.

When asked about that, Trump said he believed he could do that without Congressional approval but it was "not necessary".

Instead, he said, the other 28 allies had agreed to increase their defence spending more quickly to meet a NATO target of two per cent of their national income within a few years.

The current commitment is to reach two per cent by 2024 but with get-out terms that would allow some to stretch it out to 2030.

Trump stressed that NATO's budget had been unfair to the United States but now he was sure it would be fair. Allies would be increasing spending by $US33 billion ($A45 billion) or more, he added.

He also said he thought spending of 4 per cent on defence - similar to the US level - would be the right level.

"We have a very powerful, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago," he said.

Citing the alliance's Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, he said: "Secretary Stoltenberg gives us total credit, meaning me, I guess, in this case, total credit. Because I said it was unfair."

"The numbers have gone up like a rocket ship ... and they're going to be going up further," he said.

"Everybody in that room got along and they agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly."

Merkel said: "We had a very intense summit."

Trump had opened the first day of talks in Brussels on Wednesday with a public diatribe against Germany, the second biggest state in the Western defence alliance, criticising its reliance on Russian gas imports and failure to spend more on defence.

The mood had appeared to have calmed as the summit went into its second day, focusing on operations beyond Europe.

But, several sources said, Trump instead reopened in strong terms his demand that other countries spend more immediately.

Reuters