Trump says NATO member defense spending “may have to go up”

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is meeting with President Trump at the White House Tuesday, before delivering a joint address to Congress Wednesday morning, as NATO marks its 70th anniversary.

But the meeting comes amid some undercurrents, as Mr. Trump tries to decrease the United States’ footprint abroad with his “America First” foreign policy. Mr. Trump has urged other NATO nations to increase their defense spending to agreed-upon levels, a stance many see as positive, but on Tuesday the president said defense spending will need to go higher than 2 percent.

Currently NATO members agree to spend at least 2 percent of Gross Domestic Product on defense, but Mr. Trump, in a meeting alongside the secretary general, said that figure “may have to go up.”

The president addressed other topics as well, including his ongoing threat to close the border.

“If we don’t make a deal with Congress, the border’s going to be closed. 100 percent,” the president said, after last week tweeting that he would close the border this week if Mexico doesn’t stop the flow of immigrants.

Meanwhile, Mr. Trump’s close relationships with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Russian President Vladimir Putin while criticizing U.S. allies has made some ally NATO nations distance themselves from the U.S. Last year, for instance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany can’t rely “on the superpower of the U.S.” any longer to bring order to the world.

Before he became president, Mr. Trump declared NATO “obsolete.” He later revised that statement, saying he no longer believes that to be the case.

“I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete,” Mr. Trump declared during Stoltenberg’s visit in 2017.

When NATO was founded in 1949, there were 12 ally nations. Now there are 29. Last month, Mr. Trump suggested perhaps Brazil could be a part of NATO, though Brazil is largely in the southern hemisphere.

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