Trump and Stoltenberg also discussed how NATO is gaining strength and capability.
“We’ve really strengthened NATO and the NATO alliance,” the president said. “The strong working partnership we forged has helped to produce significant increases in member-state contributions. We’ve worked very hard on that.”
At the Wales summit in 2014, NATO nations pledged to dedicate 2 percent of gross domestic product to defense matters. At that time, only the United States, the United Kingdom and Greece were above that goal. This year, eight members are expected to hit the goal — Poland, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Greece, the United Kingdom and the United States. A total of 15 nations are scheduled to make it by 2025. There are 29 nations in NATO.
Increased Commitment to Defense
“We’re delighted to report that last year, as a result of our joint efforts, we witnessed the single-largest increase in defense spending among European member states and Canada in a quarter of a century,” Trump said.
Trump reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO pact, that an attack on any member state is an attack on all. The president has also called on NATO allies to improve their counterterrorism capabilities.
“I also discussed with Secretary General Stoltenberg our commitment to stopping nuclear proliferation, including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” the president said. “We want a future of safety, security, peace for all Koreans and for the entire world.”
The United States will continue to work with other nations to halt not only Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but the country’s destabilizing activities throughout the Middle East.
‘Strength, But Peace’
“The strength of the NATO alliance does not depend on military might alone, but also the deep ties of history, culture and tradition that have long united our civilization,” Trump said. “Now we must renew these ties and rededicate ourselves to our shared heritage. And in heritage, we want a heritage of peace. Strength, but peace.”
Stoltenberg thanked the president for his strong commitment to the alliance.
“Last time we met, your main message was that NATO had to do more in the fight against terrorism and more on defense spending,” the secretary general said to the president. “All NATO leaders agreed and now we are delivering. We are stepping up our efforts in the fight against terrorism.”
Stoltenberg emphasized that NATO is integral to training Afghan forces, and he mentioned that the alliance is planning to launch a new training mission in Iraq. NATO leaders will discuss that plan at the summit in July.
“On defense spending, I would say that I agree with you,” Stoltenberg said. “We had to do more and I would like to thank you for your leadership. … It is impacting allies because all allies are now increasing defense spending.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)