Central Europeans confident Trump committed to NATO
- Author: Leroy Wright May 29, 2017,
May 29, 2017, 16:35
When Trump tried to lighten the mood with a joke about NATO's gleaming new home base - "I never asked once what the new NATO Headquarters cost" - there was no laughter from his counterparts.
"Terrorism must be stopped in its tracks, or the horror you saw in Manchester and so many other places will continue forever", Trump said, referring to Monday's suicide bombing in the English city that killed 22 people, including children. "If NATO countries made their full and complete contributions, then NATO would be even stronger than it is today".
Finally, as aghast fellow leaders whispered amongst themselves, Trump blasted them for owing "massive amounts of money", leaving allies back in the uncertain space they were past year.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that joining the US -led anti-ISIL coalition "will send a strong political message of NATO's commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our coordination within the coalition".
Trump announced a review of "deeply troubling" US intelligence leaks over the Manchester bombing, in which 22 people died, and warned that those responsible could face prosecution, the White House said. "We are not playing cutesie with this".
Praise was always going to be in short supply after Trump's sharp election campaign criticism of the alliance, which he blamed for not doing more to combat terrorism.
On the campaign trail Trump anxious transatlantic allies when he dismissed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as "obsolete", and said he would weigh up whether a state triggering Article 5 if invaded had met its financial obligations.
"As for climate, well, President Trump can assert his position", Macron said after Thursday's meeting.
But it was what Trump didn't offer - an unambiguous commitment to NATO's common defense provision known as Article 5 - that spoke loudest to some of the alliance's eastern members.
While Trump emerged from the summit without a final decision on the Paris pact, he declared in a tweet Saturday that he will make a final decision next week.
"Even 2 percent of GDP is insufficient ..."
The Daily Mail also reports that NATO's official seating chart puts the USA in the front row and Montenegro, which is in the process of formally joining the military alliance, in the corner. Markovic's tiny country is set to become NATO's 29th member on June 5.
Whether shoving aside Montenegro's PM or having handshake wars with France's new leader, Trump created chaos at what was meant to be a diplomatic showpiece.