Politics

Trump affirms US commitment to defend NATO nations

President Donald Trump.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
President Donald Trump.

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump publicly reaffirmed his commitment to NATO’s mutual defense provision, countering suggestions he previously made that he might not deploy U.S. troops to defend a member state under attack.

“Absolutely, I’d be committed to Article 5,” Trump said Friday at a press conference with Romanian president Klaus Iohannis at the White House, invoking the provision of the treaty that requires signers to defend other nations in the alliance.

The White House has praised Romania as among the countries meeting the president’s call for alliance members to increase their defense spending. Earlier this year, the Romanian Defense Ministry announced its budget would be pegged to 2 percent of gross domestic product, in line with a benchmark set by members of the pact in 2014.

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During the presidential campaign Trump said the U.S. might not come to the defense of nations that hadn’t yet met that goal.

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Those concerns deepened during the president’s first foreign trip last month, when during a speech at NATO headquarters, he did not explicitly mention his commitment to Article 5. Politico reported that while the president’s top foreign policy aides had encouraged him to include such assurances in the speech, he decided at the last minute to drop that part of his prepared remarks.

In subsequent days and weeks, the White House has attempted to downplay the controversy, saying the president’s attendance at NATO headquarters itself symbolized his commitment to the mutual defense treaty.