US President Donald Trump used his first NATO summit on Thursday to urge the alliance to do more to tackle terrorism and immigration as well as Russia.
“The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration as well as threats from Russia and NATO’s eastern and southern borders,” Trump said as he unveiled a 9/11 memorial at the alliance’s new headquarters in Brussels.
Meanwhile, NATO has agreed that each of its 28-member will be committed to 2 percent of their country’s GDP to pay for organization’s defense budget following Trump’s request, the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Thursday.
In a related story, a senior White House official said on Thursday, after Trump made no mention of NATO’s Article V in a speech that the US president stands united with other NATO countries in defending all members of the Western military alliance,
“It’s the core of the alliance,” the official said after Trump gave a speech to fellow NATO leaders in Brussels.
NATO’s founding treaty states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all, but Trump questioned that in his election campaign and has not publicly backed the defense commitment set out in Article V.
Ahead of a summit with Trump, NATO will join the US-led coalition fighting ISIS militants, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday.
“This will send a strong political message of NATO’s commitment to the fight against terrorism,” Stoltenberg said.
He stressed this did not involve NATO taking on a combat role in the fight against IS and other Islamist terror groups in Syria and Iraq.
Trump came to Brussels on his first foreign trip as president to push NATO allies to take on a more active role, having dubbed the Cold War-era alliance “obsolete” for failing to focus on the threat from Islamist terrorism.
Arriving in the city Wednesday, Trump said Monday’s deadly bomb attack in Manchester only showed how dangerous the threat was and that the fight against terror had to be won.
All 28 allies have individually joined the anti-ISIS coalition of more than 60 countries, but NATO as an institution has not followed suit until now despite intense pressure from Washington.
Diplomatic sources say some member states such as France, Germany and Italy had opposed such a move for fear the alliance would be dragged into a ground war and risk relations with Arab powers.
NATO sources told AFP Wednesday those reservations had now been overcome.
Stoltenberg said NATO would expand the role of its AWACS surveillance planes in supporting anti-ISIS operations and step up its training programs in Iraq.
A special cell would be set up at NATO headquarters in Brussels to coordinate anti-terror intelligence and planning, he said.
He said the allies would also meet Tusk’s demands to share more of the security burden and reaffirm a commitment to spend two percent of annual GDP on defense.