NATO chief: Trump calls for increased spending 'is having an impact'

NATO chief: Trump calls for increased spending 'is having an impact'
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The secretary general of NATO on Sunday credited President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden on Trump's refusal to commit to peaceful transfer of power: 'What country are we in?' Romney: 'Unthinkable and unacceptable' to not commit to peaceful transition of power Two Louisville police officers shot amid Breonna Taylor grand jury protests MORE with encouraging other countries to spend more on defense, and downplayed critics' concerns that the president's rhetoric and actions have threatened to undermine the alliance.

"President Trump has been very clear. He is committed to NATO … but at the same time he has clearly stated that NATO allies need to invest more," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on "Fox News Sunday."

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He noted that NATO members have agreed to increase their defense spending contributions across the board, which he argued has strengthened the alliance.

"So we see some real money and real results, and we see that a clear message from President Trump is having an impact," Stoltenberg said. "NATO allies have heard the president loud and clear."

Trump took note of Stoltenberg's comments, tweeting shortly after the interview aired that burden sharing has made the alliance "more united."

"Dems & Fake News like to portray the opposite!" the president tweeted.

The president has been openly critical of NATO, arguing that the U.S. contributes a disproportionate amount to fund the group and protects other countries that pay less. Members do not pay into NATO, but rather contribute toward defense spending in their respective budgets.

NATO member nations agreed in 2014 to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic products on defense by 2024. But only five of the alliance’s 29 countries have already met that target. NATO has said 15 are on pace to reach the goal.

The New York Times reported earlier this month that Trump privately indicated multiple times in 2018 that he wanted the U.S. to withdraw from the NATO alliance.

The White House ripped the report as "meaningless," and cited the president's past statements that the U.S. has a "strong" commitment to NATO.

The House last week overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation expressing congressional support for NATO. Democrats and many Republicans have expressed concerns that Trump's rhetoric toward NATO could embolden Russia and other adversaries.