In a U-turn, Trump now says NATO 'no longer obsolete'
Washington, Apr 13: In a major U-Turn, President Donald Trump has said that NATO is 'no longer obsolete', asserting that he is committed to the military alliance.
"I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete. It's no longer obsolete," Trump told reporters at a joint White House news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
"It's my hope that NATO will take on an increased role in supporting our Iraqi partners in their battle against ISIS," he said.
NATO was formed in 1949 and since then its member states have more than doubled, increasing from 12 to 28. On Monday, he signed the protocol to approve the 29th, the country of Montenegro.
"In the coming months and years, I'll work closely with all of our NATO allies to enhance this partnership and to adapt to the challenges of the future, of which there will be many. This includes upgrading their focus on today's most pressing security and all of its challenges, including migration and terrorism," Trump said.
Observing that NATO countries must work together to resolve the disaster currently taking place in Syria, Trump appreciated the support of NATO members and partners in their condemnation of Assad's murderous attack using the most horrible weapons.
"The vicious slaughter of innocent civilians with chemical weapons, including the barbaric killing of small and helpless children and babies, must be forcefully rejected by any nation that values human life. It is time to end this brutal civil war, defeat terrorists, and allow refugees to return home," he said.
"In facing our common challenges, we must also ensure that NATO members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe. Many have not been doing that," he said.
Trump and Stoltenberg agreed that other member-nations must satisfy their responsibility to contribute two per cent of GDP to defence. If other countries pay their fair share instead of relying on the United Sates to make up the difference, they will all be much more secure, and the partnership will be made that much stronger, he said.
Trump is expected to travel to Brussels later this spring to attend the NATO Summit.
"Every generation has strived to adapt the NATO alliance to meet the challenges of their times. And during my visit to Brussels this Spring, which I look very much forward to, we will work together to do the same. We must not be trapped by the tired thinking that so many have, but apply new solutions to face new circumstances, and that's all throughout the world," he said.
Stoltenberg said a strong NATO is good for Europe, but a strong NATO is also good for the United States.
"I welcome the very strong commitment of the United States to the security of Europe. We see this commitment not only in words, but also in deeds. Over the past months, thousands of US troops have been deploying to Europe, a clear demonstration that America stands with allies to protect peace and defend our freedom," he said.
Noting that in a more dangerous and more unpredictable world, it is important to have friends and allies, Stoltenberg said in NATO, adding that America has the best friends and the best allies in the world.
"Together, we represent half of the world's economic and military power. No other superpower has ever had such a strategic advantage. This makes the United States stronger and safer," he said.
Observing that NATO plays a key role in many other ways also, he said all NATO allies are part of the global coalition to counter ISIL.
"NATO provides direct support to the coalition with training for Iraqi forces in their fight against terrorists, and more intelligence sharing. We have established a new division for intelligence, which enhances our ability to fight terrorism, and working together in the alliance to fight terrorism even an even more effective way," he said.
NATO, he asserted can and must do more in the global fight against terrorism.
"In the fight against terrorism, training local forces is one of the best weapons we have. NATO has the experience, the expertise and the staying power to make a real difference. And fighting terrorism will be an important topic when NATO leaders meet in Brussels in May," the NATO secretary general said.