Trump Says He's Now Happy With NATO, Takes 'Total Credit'

He says other nations agreed to increase spending, but France's Macron disagrees
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 12, 2018 6:55 AM CDT
President Trump listens to a question during a press conference after a summit of heads of state and government at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Thursday.   (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

(Newser) – The good news for those worried about the US commitment to NATO under President Trump is that Trump declared, "I believe in NATO" Thursday during a summit-ending press conference, reports the New York Times. The bad news is that, earlier, in a closed-door session with fellow leaders, he again criticized their defense spending and threatened to "do my own thing" if things didn't change, reports the Wall Street Journal. That report is backed up by the Washington Post, but both newspapers say those in the meeting were unsure exactly what the threat meant—a US pullout or maybe a lesser American role? Trump was asked at his press conference whether he thought he could withdraw from NATO without congressional approval, and he said: "I think I probably can, but that’s unnecessary."

Trump claimed that other nations had indeed agreed to increase spending, thus making his threat moot. “Yesterday I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment,” said Trump, without providing details. He also said that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg had given him "total credit" for that, reports Reuters. "We have a very powerful, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago,” he said. In his own subsequent news conference, French President Emanuel Macron said NATO members had not agreed to boost spending beyond their previous commitment of 2% of GDP by 2024, reports the AP. He also shot down speculation that Trump threatened to pull out. He "never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO," said Macron.

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