US President Donald Trump said that Washington is committed to the mutual defense of NATO members, casting aside concerns that his failure to mention the commitment last month weakened the alliance.
Trump on Friday said that he was “committing the United States to Article 5.”
That article in the NATO treaty says an attack on one member is an attack on all members and binds the allies to come to that nation’s defense.
European nations and others last month expressed concern when Trump did not mention the clause in a speech at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
In that speech, Trump demanded that allies live up to a pledge to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024.
He did not mention Article 5, which has only been invoked once, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the US.
“I’m committing the United States to Article 5,” Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. “Certainly we are there to protect, and that’s one of the reasons that I want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force, but yes: Absolutely, I’d be committed to Article 5.”
The White House later reaffirmed the commitment in a statement announcing that Trump is to visit Poland next month as part of his second foreign trip.
It said that the trip would emphasize the president’s commitment to bolstering NATO’s “collective defense.”
Trump’s omission in Brussels raised concerns on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
White House aides said the president’s support was implied even though he deliberately did not utter the words.
Still, allies had questions about Trump’s belief in the value of NATO, which he had termed “obsolete” during the presidential campaign.
On Friday, Trump said that only a handful of NATO’s 29 members — Montenegro joined just this week — were meeting the 2 percent pledge.
However, he said that the US would abide by its treaty obligations.
“We’re going to make NATO very strong,” he said. “You need the money to make it strong. You can’t just do what we’ve been doing in the past.”
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