Trump also renewed his call for other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, including Germany, to "step it up" and pay in more to the Western alliance after years in which U.S. taxpayers have, he said, borne an "unfair" share of military spending.
The president was among the last to enter the room for the photo, walking in with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan before standing in the middle of the group and appearing to be ignored by his contemporaries.
"I have experienced myself how a part of Germany was controlled by the Soviet Union", said Merkel, who grew up in what was then communist East Germany.
Arriving in Brussels, he said it was "totally inappropriate" that Germany was paying billions of dollars to Russian Federation for oil and gas while spending little over 1% of its GDP on defence.
Trump asserted that a pipeline project has made Germany "totally controlled" by and "captive to Russia".
Before he departed for the alliance summit in Belgium that starts a week-long trip that also features meetings with United Kingdom leaders and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said the latter would likely be the "easiest".
"I want to dispel the American president's argument which says that the US alone protects Europe against our enemies, and that the U.S.is nearly alone in this struggle", he said.
"The U.S. doesn't have and won't have a better ally than the EU".
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Of his meetings in Brussels and Britain and with Putin, he said: "Frankly, [the meeting with] Putin may be the easiest of them all - who would think? This is serious. My task is to try to minimise the negative impact on NATO", Stoltenberg told a forum in the margins of the summit. "Well they could increase it immediately, tomorrow, and have no problem". Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall.
The NATO chief was frank about the impact of Trump's criticism on the Western allies at a broader level and he referred to non-NATO issues such as trade, where Trump is angry over the US trade deficit with the European Union. "And I think that leaders are also looking forward to your thoughts about the meeting with President Putin later on".
During the president's seven-day tour through Europe, he plans to stop in Helsinki on July 16 for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In March, Germany agreed to allow Russia's energy-exporting monopoly Gazprom to build a pipeline through its waters.
Evidence also suggests that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 Presidential election, interference that has been confirmed by the USA intelligence community and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump's comments about the United Kingdom refer to recent chaos in Prime Minister Theresa May's government, which has been thrown into turmoil by a series of high-profile resignations by Brexit-supporting ministers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said her government will increase spending to 1.5% of GDP by 2024.
The 1.5 percent level forecast for NATO's European members in 2018 compares to 1.46 percent previous year, 1.44 percent in 2016 and 1.42 percent in 2015.
"We're discussing military expenditure. talking about trade", Trump told reporters who were allowed in to the meeting room.