Trump, NATO chief to meet at White House

Trump, NATO chief to meet at White House
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Leading Democrats largely pull punches at debate MORE will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Washington next week, the White House announced Saturday.

“The two leaders will discuss the NATO allies’ progress on increasing defense spending and ensuring more equitable burden-sharing,” the White House said in a statement.

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“The President will also stress the importance of strengthening the NATO Alliance’s defense and deterrence against external threats, maintaining the focus on counterterrorism, raising Allies’ awareness on protecting 5G networks and critical infrastructure, and building resilience against cyber-attacks,” the White House added. 

Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO, arguing that the U.S. contributes a disproportionate amount to help the alliance compared to the 28 other member nations. Members do not pay into NATO but contribute toward defense spending in their respective budgets.

While Trump’s abrasive tone toward NATO has been met with pushback by some lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Stoltenberg said in January that Trump's criticism of other NATO members was "having an impact."

"NATO allies have heard the president loud and clear, and now NATO allies are stepping up," he said.

The rhetoric from Trump has irked some allies, with French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronWorld leaders to gather in Israel for fight against anti-Semitism forum Putin is making a move while America is distracted 'Old World' demons are stirring again MORE this week saying the alliance is undergoing a "brain death" due to a lack of commitment from the U.S.

"I don't know [whether Article Five remains in effect]," Macron said, referring to the collective defense agreement. "But what will Article Five mean tomorrow?”

NATO "only works if the guarantor of last resort functions as such," he added. "I'd argue that we should reassess the reality of what NATO is in the light of the commitment of the United States."

Trump, a longtime NATO critic, raised eyebrows in 2017 when he declined to specifically commit to honor the collective defense agreement.

Member nations agreed in 2014 to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense by 2024, but only a handful of them have already hit that target.