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NATO agrees to up contribution in 'fight against international terrorism' after Iran missile attacks

NATO agrees to up contribution in 'fight against international terrorism' after Iran missile attacks
© Greg Nash

NATO has agreed to “contribute more to regional stability” in the Middle East a day after Iran claimed it struck two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday spoke by phone with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE “on developments in the Middle East,” specifically discussing “the situation in the region and NATO’s role,” according to a NATO readout of the conversation.

“The President asked the Secretary General for NATO to become more involved in the Middle East. They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism,” the statement read. 

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White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later confirmed on Twitter that Trump spoke with Stoltenberg and “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East.”

Trump earlier in the day announced that he would ask NATO “to become much more involved in the Middle East process,” after Iran on Tuesday said it launched a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops in response to the killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a U.S. drone strike. 

No Americans or Iraqis were killed in the strikes, according to the Trump administration.

NATO already plays a role in the region as a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, and also participates in training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight against other terrorist organizations. About 8,000 NATO soldiers are currently in Afghanistan

Trump, however, has often lamented that NATO member countries are not pulling their weight in defense spending for the alliance, claiming that they rely too much on U.S. defense dollars.  

Administration officials have defended the killing of Soleimani — who was in charge of directing Iran’s international network of proxy forces — claiming the general was responsible for the deaths of U.S. troops and that he was planning imminent attacks on U.S. interests. 

The administration has provided no solid evidence for its assertions, and critics have accused the president of needlessly ratcheting up tensions with Tehran.