NATO Summit Live Updates: Trump Pushes Allies To Increase Spending

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Mr. Trump strongly recommitted American support for NATO, a bedrock of Western security policy for generations, on Thursday, comments that at least temporarily calmed fears that he might move toward dismantling the alliance.

“The United States commitment to NATO is very strong, remains very strong,” he said at a news conference in Brussels. “I believe in NATO.”

But if Mr. Trump’s public remarks were friendly, the tone behind closed doors was much harsher. Officials from other countries voiced fears that even if he had not broken an alliance that was first formed in 1949 to contain the Soviet Union, he had thrown some sand in its gears.

Mr. Trump insisted that despite his criticism of the alliance and some of its member countries, there was no animosity in private meetings with other leaders.


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“There’s a great, very collegial spirit in that room,” he said. “Very unified, very strong, no problem”

According to a person briefed on Mr. Trump’s meeting with other NATO leaders, Mr. Trump said that if the other countries did not increase military spending to 2 percent of their economic output by January, the United States “would go it alone.”

What that would mean was not clear to the officials who were present. White House officials did not immediately respond to requests to explain Mr. Trump’s comment, or to say whether he was suggesting that the United States could withdraw from NATO.

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The French president, Emmanuel Macron, dismissed such concerns as unfounded.

“Generally I do not comment on what goes on behind the scenes, but at no moment did President Trump — neither bilaterally nor multilaterally — say that he was intending to leave NATO,” Mr. Macron said.

Mr. Trump has not held a news conference on American soil for more than a year. But on Thursday, flanked by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and John R. Bolton, his national security adviser, he took questions from reporters for over a half an hour.

He dismissed any concern that his relationship with Russia was too cozy or that his relationship with allies was too harsh. — Katie Rogers, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Steven Erlanger

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