Trump: NATO countries burden-sharing improving, but more needed

In a meeting with NATO secretary-general, Trump says progress has been made by member countries in defence spending.

    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]
    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House on Tuesday [Evan Vucci/AP Photo]

    US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that NATO member nations have improved in bearing a greater share of defence costs but added that he hoped to see them spend even more in future years.

    "We've worked together in getting some of our allies to pay their fair share. It's called burden sharing," Trump said at the White House during a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

    Trump repeated his complaint that the US pays a disproportionate share of defence costs for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

    However, he added that "tremendous progress" had been made and said the US relationship with NATO was good and the relationship with Stoltenberg is "outstanding".

    The US president said he would like to see NATO members pay more than two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for defence. Trump told NATO leaders last year to increase defence spending to four percent of GDP.

    Trump singled out Germany as not meeting the spending mark. "Germany honestly is not paying their fair share," he said. "They're not paying what they should be paying. They're paying close to one percent."

    The president ran on an "America First" platform and has suggested he might be willing to pull the US out of NATO if member counties don't significantly boost their defence spending. 

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    NATO tensions

    Since coming to office, Trump has slapped tariffs on the European Union (EU) and pulled out of both the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump's desire for better relations with Russia also has alarmed countries that view Moscow as a threat.

    Trump, two former US ambassadors to NATO said in a recent report, is seen by allies as NATO's "most urgent, and often most difficult, problem".

    The White House meeting with Stoltenberg comes before a gathering of NATO foreign ministers marking the organisation's 70th anniversary.

    US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also invited Stoltenberg to address a joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday.

    The invitation was backed by US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and followed votes earlier this year in which Republicans voiced opposition to Trump's plans to draw down US troops in Syria and Afghanistan.

    SOURCE: News agencies