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Trump threatens trade action to spur NATO contributions

Trump threatens trade action to spur NATO contributions
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque   -   Copyright  KEVIN LAMARQUE(Reuters)
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States may take action on trade with countries that are not contributing enough to NATO.

Trump, fresh from a trip to London for a meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been pushing member countries to contribute more to the organization.

The U.S. president said a lot of countries were getting close to the goal of 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product for NATO contributions.

“A lot of countries are close and getting closer. And some are really not close, and we may do things having to do with trade. It’s not fair that they get U.S. protection and they’re not putting up their money,” he said.

Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron clashed over the future of NATO on Tuesday before a summit intended to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Western military alliance.

In sharp exchanges underlining discord in a transatlantic bloc hailed by many as the most successful military pact in history, Trump demanded that Europe pay more for its collective defense and make concessions to U.S. interests on trade.

He also was upbeat about the alliance on Thursday, saying his meetings went well and that “NATO is in very, very good shape and the relationships with other countries are really extraordinary.”

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)

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