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By Russ Read
President Donald Trump once criticized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization for being “obsolete,” but the president said that was no longer the case after meeting with the organization’s leader Wednesday.
“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism,” said Trump during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”
Trump added that he hopes NATO will take an increased role in the fight against the Islamic State. He added he will send his national security adviser, Army Gen. H.R. McMaster, to Afghanistan to determine what can be done to “make progress alongside our Afghan partners and NATO allies.”
Trump’s comments represent a major shift in his rhetoric toward NATO, but he reaffirmed his concern regarding NATO spending. NATO members are supposed to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on defense, but only five of the alliance’s 28 member countries are expected to meet that goal in their budgets for fiscal year 2016.
Stoltenberg shared Trump’s concern regarding member spending, and noted that it has been the primary issue brought up in his meetings with NATO leaders.