North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is "no longer obsolete", President Trump declares

Stoltenberg is touting NATO's benefits at a joint press conference with President Donald Trump at the White House.

Trump meanwhile said on Wednesday that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is not obsolete, as he had declared on the campaign trail previous year, but said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation members still need to pay their fair share for the European security umbrella.

JUDY WOODRUFF: You did just from the meeting with President Trump.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO Secretary-General: At least the relationship is hard.

Putin accused Assad's opponents of planning to stage chemical attacks to be blamed on Damascus in order to lure the United States deeper into the conflict. Now on the outs is Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, the "economic nationalist" who wants to sharply curtail immigration, erect trade barriers, reduce US commitments overseas and destroy what he calls the "administrative state". Stoltenberg says another two or three nations will reach this stage in the next year or two.

During his campaign, Mr Trump insisted that one of his first acts as president would be to direct his treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator.

Mr Trump was once highly critical of the Fed, saying its low interest rate policy had hurt savers.

What we see as flip-floppery and weakness, Trump sees as flexibility and uncertainty - which he thinks are two hallmarks of any strong deal-maker. We should be grateful if Mr. Trump is paying attention, and even more grateful if he would let them fill out their teams and develop a strategy.

Mr Trump's change of heart is likely in part down to the souring of United States relations with Russian Federation over the Syrian chemical gas attack.

Trump made castigating China a staple of his presidential campaign, saying the communist giant was guilty of "rape" against the U.S. economy and promising it would be branded a currency manipulator on his first day in the Oval Office.

He said they were "replacing it with a smarter plan, a more strategic plan, a more surgical plan".

But is it still too expensive, unfair, no good, and not including the right countries - and do we still have "no choice" but to change the whole agreement?

"Today's vote could have been a turning point", she said.

Trump is expected to travel to Brussels later this spring to attend the NATO Summit.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Finally, Mr. Secretary-General, a question about Turkey, which, as you know, is just days away from a referendum that would grant sweeping additional powers to President Erdogan, essentially making him - or allowing him to be immune from any oversight by the parliament or by the courts.

Russia, which is strongly against NATO's expansion in Europe, has repeatedly denied involvement in the alleged coup attempt.

"I don't remember a case of a dictator being removed smoothly without violence", said Lavrov, lamenting past efforts to remove Slobodan Milosevic from Serbia, Saddam Hussein from Iraq, and Moammar Gadhafi from Libya. Russian Federation says rebels were responsible for whatever chemical agent was used, which the Trump administration calls a disinformation campaign.

The German foreign minister, for example, said of the 2 percent goal on March 31: "I don't know any German politician who would claim that is reachable nor desirable".

Beyond Syria, Russia's alleged meddling in the US presidential election also hovered over what was the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and any Trump administration Cabinet member. Those on the receiving end of the 59 cruise missiles launched last week might be puzzled. Ed Markey said he welcomed the change as Trump squaring "his philosophy with reality, but added that he thought Trump's frequent shifts were "undermining our role on the world stage".

  • Salvatore Jensen