Politics & Government

Trump on NATO: ‘I said it was obsolete. It is no longer obsolete.’

President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017.
President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. AP

During his campaign, Donald Trump never missed an opportunity to take a swipe at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, accusing the group of not paying its fair share and not focusing on terror.

Trump called NATO “obsolete,” a harsh description of a security arrangement created by the United States, Canada and Europe in 1949 to provide collective security against the then-Soviet Union in the period after World War II.

In a Wednesday press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Trump struck a different tone.

“I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete,” Trump said.

Trump said he and Stoltenberg had a “productive discussion” about NATO tackling terrorism. NATO started with 12 members and now has 28. Trump, earlier this week, approved adding Montenegro into NATO. Russia opposes Montenegro joining NATO.

Stoltenberg said “burden sharing” is his top priority and that countries are making progress in reaching the 2 percent threshold for spending on defense, including Romania, Latvia and Lithuania, which are expected to reach the threshold this year or next.

“A strong NATO is good for Europe, but a strong NATO is also good for the United States,” Stoltenberg said.

It is not the first foreign policy topic that Trump has changed his position on in recent days.

He was a frequent critic of U.S. taking action in Syria, but launched missiles at the country last week in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against citizens, including children. Trump called Syrian President Bashar Assad a “butcher” during Wednesday’s press conference.

After calling China a “currency manipulator” throughout his campaign and promising to label the country as such, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he will not place that label on China.

Trump talked often about getting along with Russia and Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign. But his administration continues to talk tough with Russia, saying the relationship between the two nations is now “at an all-time low.”

“Right now we’re not getting along with Russia at all. We may be at an all-time low,” Trump said Wednesday.

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