Friday, February 22, 2019 | ePaper
It is 'presently unnecessary' to quit Nato: Trump
US President Donald Trump has said he thinks it is "presently unnecessary" to consider quitting Nato.
The comment came after a two-day summit in Brussels, at which he said allies had committed to spending more than 2% of their annual output (GDP) on defence budgets.
He has previously been highly critical of the alliance, complaining the US pays more than others.
However, no other country has confirmed any increased commitments as yet.
There were unconfirmed reports this morning which suggested Mr Trump had threatened to go it alone if other nations did not meet the alliance's target of 2% of their GDP by 2024, BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale says.
But by the time Mr Trump held a press conference, he was hailing the summit as a success.
"We made a tremendous amount of progress today," he said. "It has been really amazing to see the level of spirit in that room."
He added the US commitment to Nato -- which was established in 1949 with members agreeing that an attack against one would be considered an attack against them all -- "remains very strong". But there are conflicting reports over what exactly was agreed. Mr Trump said the allies "have substantially upped their commitment", with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg giving him "total credit" for the increased spending, which he said he instigated during his first Nato meeting last year.
Mr Stoltenberg said members had had a "frank and open discussion" which "created a new sense of urgency", and that the "clear message from President Trump is having an impact". French President Emmanuel Macron meanwhile said that no country had signed up to anything more than what was agreed four years ago.
Mr Trump wants the increases to happen sooner, and has previously urged Nato allies to commit at least 4% of GDP.
"Everyone agreed to raise spending, in line with commitments made in 2014," Mr Macron said, adding he was unconvinced by proposals to increase it to 4%.
He said France had a clear strategy of analysing security threats and that he could not ask his government for "tens of billions more" beyond that.
"It's taxpayers' money we're talking about," he said.
President Macron said the meetings had a different tone to Mr Trump's early morning tweets, which had been typically critical. Mr Macron said the conversations had been more respectful, according to Reuters.
In a separate briefing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was a clear commitment to Nato from all attendees. The US leader has specifically singled out Germany for criticism over its defence spending.
He has also accused the country of being held prisoner to imported Russian energy, saying it is "totally controlled" by Moscow. But it was not all about Mr Trump, with Nato leaders also turning their attention to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani was present for the second day of talks, and Mr Stoltenberg hopes the bloc will agree to fund Afghan security forces until 2024. President Trump has now arrived in the UK for a two-day working visit, which is expected to spark public protests.