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Trump calls harsh NATO rhetoric ‘a negotiation’

Trump calls harsh NATO rhetoric 'a negotiation'
Source: Video Screenshot

Donald Trump said Tuesday his remarks downplaying his commitment to NATO were merely a negotiating tactic to get member nations to pay more towards the alliance’s collective defense.

Trump, who is running for reelection, regularly criticizes NATO but launched his most extreme broadside yet in February, saying he would “encourage” Russia to attack members that had not met their financial obligations.

The comments prompted NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to urge him not to “undermine” members’ collective security.

The Republican former president’s attitude to NATO came up in an interview on British network GB News, when host Nigel Farage observed that critics had pointed to his Russia remarks to oppose the controversial tycoon’s reelection.

“They can use it — I don’t care if they use it — because what I’m saying is that’s a form of negotiation,” Trump said.

“Why should we guard these countries that have a lot of money and the United States was paying for most of NATO?”

Trump, 77, has long complained about NATO, accusing the 28 European members in particular of not pulling their weight on military spending, taking for granted that they can rely on the United States as a defensive shield.

But he has never demonstrated that he understands how NATO funding works, mischaracterizing it instead as a club which subsists on membership fees.

In 2006, NATO countries made a vague commitment — formalized in 2014 — to spend two percent of their gross domestic product on their own defense, but members do not pay subscription fees and do not “owe” the alliance money for defense.

The benchmark is voluntary and there are no penalties enshrined in NATO’s founding treaty for falling short.

“I believe the United States was paying 90 percent of NATO, the cost of NATO. It could be 100 percent. It was the most unfair thing,” Trump told GB News.

“And don’t forget, it’s more important to them than it is to us. We have an ocean in between some problems, okay? We have a nice big, beautiful ocean, and it’s more important for them.”

Beyond NATO, allies are also concerned about the United States’ continued support for Ukraine, seen as vital to sustaining its war effort against Russia.

Trump — who often brags that he could end the two-year-old war on his first day in office — told GB News he would be able to negotiate with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

“I got along with Putin great… That’s a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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