Trump officially designates Brazil a non-NATO ally

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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest 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 PompeoClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions State Department's top arms control official leaving 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."