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Stoltenberg: It’s in the interest of Trump to back NATO countries at summit

NATO summit

  • NATO’s top official, Jens Stoltenberg, has said the U.S. will want to maintain a strong transatlantic bond
  • The NATO secretary-general has previously thanked President Donald Trump for securing bigger budgets from alliance members.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) as they arrive for the unveiling ceremony of the Berlin Wall monument, during the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017.

Emmanuel Dunnand | AFP | Getty Images
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (C) speaks with US President Donald Trump (L) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) as they arrive for the unveiling ceremony of the Berlin Wall monument, during the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit at the NATO headquarters, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017.

President Donald Trump will meet NATO allies in Brussels next week, who will expect the U.S. leader to again go on the attack about insufficient spending on defense by other countries.

Trump has time and again criticized member countries of the alliance that have failed to hit a target, agreed in 2014, to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on military forces.

The bond between Western countries is already under stress following June’s G7 summit in Canada, when Trump criticized the leaders of Germany and Canada over trade deals.

At that G7 meeting, Trump also claimed that NATO was “much too costly for the U.S.” and has since written to NATO leaders urging them to accelerate their outlay.

The man in the middle of the debate is NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

He told Hadley Gamble on Thursday that the alliance was moving in the right direction and that President Trump recognized that.

“The good news is that we have started to do exactly that and we have started to see a significant increase,” Stoltenberg said. ”Over the past few years we have added $87 billion from Canada and the European allies and that makes a real difference.”

Article 5 of the NATO treaty states that an attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies. NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

However, Trump has suggested that if countries did not reach their 2 percent spending target, then the U.S. would not be willing to intervene on their behalf. That threat has been seen by many as undermining the alliance’s stability, but Stoltenberg said the United States would not benefit from any scenario in which NATO was weakened.

“Two world wars and the Cold War showed us that we are stronger together and therefore it is in the interest of the United States to maintain a strong transatlantic bond.”

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