nato flag
© Murad Sezer / Reuters
A NATO flag and the flags of participating countries are pictured during the Dynamic Monarch-17
French President Emmanuel Macron has denied that NATO states agreed to increase defense spending beyond previous targets, pushing back on Donald Trump's claim, earlier on Thursday, that the alliance agreed to increase spending.

Macron denied that a new spending agreement had been reached, pointing instead to the 2 percent benchmark set in 2014.

"Everyone agreed to raise spending as they agreed in 2014, and everyone agreed to respect the commitments they made. We reaffirmed a credible budget strategy that meets our needs," the French president said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a similar statement, while leaving the door open to the possibility of a new spending target down the road.

"We'll have to talk about to what extent we can do more on defense. We presented the current situation. But considering the discussion among the European allies, not only the Americans, I think we need to ask ourselves consistently what more we can do," she said.

Earlier, Trump had said that the allies had agreed to dramatically increase spending.

"Tremendous progress has been made. Everyone's agreed to substantially up their commitment. They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before," Trump told reporters after the second day of the Brussels summit.

"Commitments were made," he added. "The commitment was at 2 percent, ultimately that'll be going up quite a bit higher than that."

Macron also pushed back on media reports that the US leader had threatened to unilaterally pull out of NATO. Trump "never at any moment, either in public or private, threaten to withdraw from NATO," he said.

The French president also criticized Trump's suggestion that the target for NATO members' defense spending should be raised from 2 to 4 percent of GDP.

NATO members agreed in 2014 that they would aim to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. Trump upped the ante during the Brussels summit, demanding that member states increase spending from 2 percent to 4 percent. He also urged allies to reach the goal "immediately" rather than through a gradual spending increase.