On a two-day leg of his first trip abroad, President Trump took NATO member states to task over financial responsibility to the 28-state alliance during an address at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels.
Mr. Trump was visiting the organization’s nerve center on Thursday for the uncovering of a monument to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
Using blunt language, Trump described “very direct” talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg regarding member states’ financial liabilities.
“These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct . . . in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share,” Trump said after laying out global security threats following the Manchester terror attack.
“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying for their defense. This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years.”
Trump had criticized the 68-year-old alliance on the campaign trail, describing NATO as “outdated” and its membership failing to contribute to its collective security.
NATO members had pledged to contribute two percent of their gross national product at a meeting in 2014; however, most member states have failed to meet the minimum defense spending.
While Trump did not name countries specifically, he labeled 23 member states as chronically delinquent in dues.
“(23 member states are) still not paying what they should be paying and what they are supposed to be paying for their defense,” Trump said.
Following the meeting, Trump said that NATO countries “agreed to step up payments”, to provide for the alliance’s common defense.
Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 27, 2017
Mr. Trump departed Belgium for the G-7 summit in Italy on Saturday and later returned to Washington in time to attend Memorial Day ceremonies.
[Reuters] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AFP via PressTV]