Donald Trump has agreed to meet NATO leaders in Europe in May.
It is a sensitive issue.
The US president was elected on a pledge to push NATO members to increase their funding to the western alliance to ease the financial burden on the United States.
Speaking at US Central Command in Florida, which oversees combat operations in the Middle East and South Asia, Trump insisted that the US “strongly supports” NATO but wants all NATO members to make their full contributions.
“America stands with those who stand in defense of freedom. We have your back every hour, every day, now and always. That also means getting our allies to pay their fair share but a very unfair (share) to us. We strongly support NATO. We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance which many of them have not been doing.”
How much concern is there about Trump’s comments?
A fair amount.
The proposal has drawn opposition from both his fellow Republicans as well as Democrats.
The idea has also worried European allies who fear Russian President Vladimir Putin might take advantage.
A White House statement said Trump and the NATO Secretary General “discussed how to encourage all NATO allies to meet their defence spending commitments” during a telephone conversation.
“President Trump agreed to join in a meeting of NATO leaders in Europe in May,” the statement said.
Questioning NATO’s value
NATO was founded in 1949 as a mutually-defensive military alliance.
Trump repeatedly questioned its value during his election campaign.
Recently, however he has taken a more positive tone, telling UK Prime Minister Theresa May he is 100% behind the alliance.