Trump officially designates Brazil a non-NATO ally

Trump officially designates Brazil a non-NATO ally
© Stefani Reynolds

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE on Wednesday officially designated Brazil as a major non-NATO ally, making it easier for the South American country to purchase U.S. weapons and defense equipment.

The president sent a memo to Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoImpeachment battle looms over must-pass defense bill Five takeaways from ex-ambassador's dramatic testimony Pompeo: No US response ruled out in Hong Kong MORE late Wednesday notifying him of the change, which he had hinted at earlier this year.

Sixteen other countries have major non-NATO ally status, including South Korea, Australia, Argentina and Kuwait. Colombia is the only other Latin American nation affiliated with NATO as a "global partner," meaning it would not necessarily have to engage in military action.

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Trump said during a visit in March from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro that he intended to make the country a major non-NATO ally. He suggested the country could be considered to be added to NATO, but the alliance would have to invite Brazil to join.

The president has offered frequent praise for Bolsonaro, who earned the nickname "Trump of the Tropics" last year when he ran a populist right-wing campaign that railed against the government establishment. He also drew backlash for inflammatory comments about minorities and women.

"He's a great gentleman," Trump said of Bolsonaro on Tuesday. "In fact, they say the 'Trump of Brazil.' I like that. That’s a compliment."