Pentagon leaders ordered a "damage control" operation within hours after President Donald Trump left NATO headquarters in Brussels Thursday to reassure European military officials that the United States will stand behind its commitments to defense, according to current and former diplomatic and military officials.
U.S. military leaders called their European counterparts to assure them that bases in their countries will remain open and troop levels will not be reduced, after Trump's threat to reassess commitments while speaking with NATO allies, NBC News reported, citing officials familiar with the telephone calls.
"One thing you need in this alliance is predictability," an unnamed diplomatic official told NBC.
Another official told NBC that the conversations were aimed at "reinforcing alliance commitments" after Trump had "made it clear alliance commitments were on the table."
The Pentagon did not return a request for comment on the reports.
Trump also asked NATO countries to raise their defense spending to 4 percent of their nations' gross domestic product, but French President Emmanuel Macron denied the spending levels those kinds of highs.
"The communique is clear," Macron said. "It reaffirms a commitment to 2 percent in 2024. That is all."
A senior U.S. administration official, though, said Trump was aggressive while meeting in private with the leaders of the NATO alliance, and said the United States will have a "reassessment" of commitments to the allies unless their defense budgets were raised, notes NBC.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday, though, said the discussion "made NATO stronger," as it "created a new sense of urgency."
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