Attending his first NATO summit, President Donald Trump did not back down from prior criticisms of the alliance. He scolded other NATO leaders and challenged them to pay their "fair share" of defense spending.
Trump, who once called NATO "obsolete," told leaders at the Belgium meeting that member nations not meeting financial commitments puts the burden on the taxpayers of the United States.
"We must be tough, we must be strong, and we must be vigilant. The NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism and immigration, as well as threats from Russia and our nation's eastern and southern borders," Trump said. "These grave security concerns are the same reason that I have been very, very direct with the secretary and members of the alliance in saying that nation members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations."
Trump said that 23 of 28 member nations do not pay what they should for their defense and pointed out that the U.S. has spent more than all other member nations combined over the last eight years.
"We should recognize that with these chronic underpayments and growing threats, even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient to close the gaps in modernizing readiness and the size of forces," Trump said. "We have to make up for the many years lost... If nation countries made their full and complete contributions, then the nation would be even stronger than it is today, especially from the threat of terrorism."
NATO officials had expected Trump to talk about payments but one European official said members were shocked by Trump's aggressive tone, the AP reported.
The president and European leaders also attended the unveiling of new 9/11 and Berlin Wall memorials at NATO headquarters.
With the AP and Fox News