NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lauded President Trump on Thursday for successfully pressuring member nations to increase their contributions to the organization.
Trump hammered America’s allies as a candidate and in the early days of his presidency to pay up, saying the U.S. had carried Europe for far too long. He today said that those that are still lagging will ‘be dealt with’ singling Germany out.
Stoltenberg told him during talks at the White House that the push to get nations to contribute the recommended two percent of GDP to their common defense ‘after years of decline’ had made all the difference.
‘I would like to thank you for your leadership,’ he said. ‘It is impacting allies, because all allies are now increasing defense spending. They’re adding billions to their budgets.’
NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg lauded President Trump on Thursday for successfully pressuring member nations to increase their contributions to the organization
NATO has its headquarters in Brussels and will host its annual summit for member nations in July.
President Trump said Thursday that that with Stoltenburt’s help he had been able to improve NATO burden sharing.
‘And I will tell you, the Secretary General has been working on that for a long time, before I got there,’ he said in complimentary remarks. ‘I can say with surety, more progress has been made in the last year and a half than has been made in many, many years.’
Trump said that last year as a result of their efforts NATO had the single-largest increase in defense spending among European member states and Canada than in the last quarter of a century.
‘That really is quite a spectacular achievement, so I congratulate you,’ he said. I congratulate you very much.’
The U.S. president said he has ‘confidence’ that Stoltenberg will set lagging allies straight.
‘We had countries that were not paying what they were supposed to be paying. Now most countries are,’ he said. ‘And I think you’ll be able to handle the ones that aren’t.’
In addition to the U.S., Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, and the United Kingdom are paying two percent or more of their GDP.
‘And they are right up to snuff. They paid. They were on time. They paid the number that they’re supposed to be paying. We have some that don’t — and, well, they’ll be dealt with,’ he said.
Trump said that 20 member nations weren’t paying the requisite amount of money into the fund and ‘more work needs to be done.’
He derided Germany as a country that’s not paying its fair share.
‘Germany has not contributed what it should be contributing, and it’s a very big beneficiary — far bigger than the United States, frankly,’ he said. ‘In addition to that, as you know, they’re buying massive amounts of gas from Russia and paying billions and billions of dollars.’
‘We need fairness. We need to be reciprocal. Countries have to be reciprocal in what we’re doing. Unfair that some countries pay, and some countries work, and some countries are loyal and terrific, and other countries aren’t,’ he said
Trump said that Germany’s contributions to Russia’s economy is something he intends to pursue, signaling that he plans to take a tougher approach to Vladimir Putin’s regime than he has in the past.
He also said he plans to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with members, as well as Iran’s provocative behavior in the Middle East. Counterterrorism measures were also on his mind.
‘We need fairness. We need to be reciprocal. Countries have to be reciprocal in what we’re doing. Unfair that some countries pay, and some countries work, and some countries are loyal and terrific, and other countries aren’t. And we just can’t have that. So we’re working on that together,’ he concluded.
Stoltenberg said that in response to Trump’s criticisms on burden sharing and on terror that other NATO nations are stepping up.
‘On defense spending, I would say that I agree with you. We have to do more,’ he said. ‘So your leadership on defense spending has really helped to make a difference, and that’s something I thank you for.’