Trump reverses position, says NATO is ‘no longer obsolete’

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US President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands during a joint press conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 12, 2017. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, in joint news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said he no longer believes that the foreign treaty organization is “obsolete,” a view he held during the 2016 campaign.

“I said it was obsolete. It is no longer obsolete,” Trump said Wednesday, citing the group’s recent anti-terror efforts.

Stoltenberg, however, noted in his opening remarks, that NATO soldiers have fought terror for many years, including in Afghanistan. NATO allies are also part of the alliance to fight ISIS. But NATO did recently established a new division to fight terrorism, as Stoltenberg noted.

Trump also commented on the need for NATO members to commit the 2 percent to defense that is required under the NATO treaty.

“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,” Trump said. “The secretary general and I agree that other member nations must satisfy their responsibility to contribute 2 percent of GDP to defense. if other countries pay their fair share instead of relying on the United States to make up the difference, we will all be much more secure and our partnership will be made that much stronger.”

Stoltenberg thanked Trump for his focus on burden sharing, saying that NATO has seen results as part of this focus.

“I thank you for your attention to this issue,” he said. “We are already seeing the effects of your strong focus on the importance on burden sharing in the alliance.”

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