Tags: Donald Trump | nato | jens stoltenberg | trump | strong | supporter | alliance

NATO's Stoltenberg: Trump 'a Strong Supporter' of Alliance

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 10:26 AM

President Donald Trump is a strong NATO supporter at a time when it's more important than ever to bond North America and Europe together, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday, the day after holding a "good and very productive meeting" with the president.

"He and his security team reconfirmed their strong support for NATO," Stoltenberg told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "We are preparing for a meeting of all the 28 leaders of NATO allied countries in Brussels in May. This is part of the preparations for that meeting. The important thing with NATO is that we are a successful alliance because we have been able to adapt to change, and the world is changing."

The alliance, he continued, is "implementing the biggest reinforcement of collective defenses since the Cold War" in the wake of "more turmoil with ISIL, terrorism, and a more assertive Russia to the East."

The Trump administration, he continued, is "very supportive" of how NATO is adapting, including adding more alliance forces in its eastern region.

"We are now seeing, for the first time in many, many years, an increase in the number of troops in Europe," said Stoltenberg. "We are increasing the number of NATO troops in general, in the Baltic countries and Poland, and I welcome that very much. At the same time, what we do is proportionate and defensive and we consider it sufficient to keep up a strong deterrence in the eastern part of the alliance."

On Wednesday, following his meeting with Stoltenberg, Trump, who had been a frequent critic of NATO, declared the alliance "no longer obsolete" and called on its 29 member countries to join together against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to fight terrorism — but he repeated his campaign demand that NATO "pay what they owe" to the United States.

Stoltenberg, though, said that Trump's support of NATO has been consistent, including stating his support very clearly when they spoke by telephone shortly after the November election.

"We spoke again in January and now when I met him at the White House, he expressed strong support for NATO, but also stressed he would like to see NATO do more in the fight against terrorism," said Stoltenberg. "I totally agree with him, and increase defense spending across Europe and Canada, I agree with him. Many European allies have to invest more in defense and I'm pushing that very hard because we need to invest more in security when tensions are going up."

Stoltenberg said he welcomes Trump's change of mind on NATO being "obsolete."

"I welcome his strong support for NATO and I welcome his support for making sure that NATO continues to adapt," said the secretary. "We have strength in our capabilities when it comes to fighting terrorism."

Stoltenberg, also appearing on CNN's "New Day," told the program that after many years of decline in defense spending in Europe and Canada, now there has been an increase, and Trump's call that the member states pay more may have been helpful.

However, all 28 allies decided in December 2014 to gradually increase spending on defense.

"I have expressed that the strong focus of President Trump on this issue has been helpful, but, of course, these are decisions taken in 28 parliaments, governments, so there are different reasons," said Stoltenberg. "He has helped by having such a strong focus on the importance of burden sharing and defense spending. At the same time this has been something many NATO leaders have been advocating in favor of because we have all seen it's possible to reduce defense spending when tensions are going down ."

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President Donald Trump is a strong NATO supporter at a time when it's more important than ever to bond North America and Europe together, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday, the day after holding a "good and very productive meeting" with the president.
nato, jens stoltenberg, trump, strong, supporter, alliance
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2017-26-13
Thursday, 13 Apr 2017 10:26 AM
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