Trump Urges NATO Allies

Trump Urges NATO Allies

Trump Urges NATO Allies To Up Defence Spending, Focus On Terrorism

Trump Urges NATO Allies

 

BRUSSELS (Alliance News) – US President Donald Trump chided his NATO counterparts for lagging on defence spending and called for increased focus on terrorism and immigration during his first NATO summit on Thursday.

Trump’s comments were anticipated by other NATO leaders, after he had called the alliance “obsolete,” demanded increased engagement in the fight against terrorism and threatened to withhold support unless other members stepped up defence spending in previous months.

“NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations,” Trump said.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the US.”

Currently, only five of the 28 NATO member states meet the defence spending target of 2% of gross domestic product, with the US being the largest contributor.

Allies made a pledge in 2014 to meet the 2% spending target by 2024 as a response to the Ukraine crisis.

Trump noted that many NATO members also owed “massive amounts of money from past years.”

He urged his NATO counterparts to fight terrorism, calling it a “common threat to all of humanity,” and to put immigration at the top of their agenda.

“You have thousands and thousands of people pouring into our various countries and spreading throughout, and in many cases, we have no idea who they are,” Trump said.

During a working dinner behind closed doors, NATO members were expected to reassure Trump of their commitment to increasing defence spending.

Allies were also aiming to appease Trump by announcing that NATO was formally joining the US-led coalition against the Islamic State extremist group.

The move is seen as mainly political as all 28 NATO member states are already individually part of the coalition and NATO is already aiding the fight against terrorism through information sharing and by training local forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said before the summit that joining the coalition means that the alliance would continue its current work of training and assistance, stressing that there was “no discussion at all of engaging NATO in a combat role”.

The allies hoped that it would prompt Trump to reassure them of US commitment to uphold the aliance’s collective defence pact, known as Article 5, which enshrines NATO’s founding principle that an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies.

However, in his public comments, Trump did not offer specific assurances on Article 5.

Trump is also likely to be confronted by his ally British Prime Minister Theresa May over US leaks on the suicide attack in Manchester.

Arriving at the summit, May noted Britain’s “special relationship” with the US, which is built on trust.

“And part of that trust is knowing that intelligence can be shared confidently and I will be making clear to President Trump today that intelligence that is shared between law enforcement agencies must be shared securely,” she said.

May is expected to collar Trump over photos and details of the Manchester Arena bomb that appeared in The New York Times.

The leak of the images came after the name of the alleged attacker, Salman Abedi, was leaked to the US media on Tuesday before British police had released it publicly.

NATO leaders offered condolences to May at the summit and held a moment of silence to commemorate the 22 people who died in the attack.

The alliance’s new headquarters building was also inaugurated with a ceremony that included a raising of the allies’ flags and an aerial flyby.

Trump jokingly noted that he “never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost”.

“I refuse to do that – but it is beautiful,” he said.

Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also dedicated two memorials featuring a part of the Berlin Wall and a section of the World Trade Center at the new headquarters.

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