US President Donald Trump has called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a "bulwark of international peace and security,” as US-Russia ties fray over Syria.
Trump, who repeatedly denounced NATO as outdated and obsolete on the campaign trail last year, made the remarks on Wednesday after meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the Oval Office in the White House in Washington, DC.
“The secretary-general and I had a productive discussion on what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism,” Trump said during a news conference with Stoltenberg.
“I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change and now they do fight terrorism. I said it was obsolete,” he added. “It is not longer obsolete.”
During the 2016 campaign and after his election, Trump has repeatedly called the United States' commitment to the military alliance into question, demanding allies pay more toward collective defense.
The Republican president has said NATO members should either pay for US military support or rely on their own military might at the time of war.
Trump has frequently suggested that US defense of a NATO member would depend on its contributions to the military alliance.
On Wednesday, Trump again called on NATO members to “meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”
The US president said he told Stoltenberg that NATO allies should fulfill their responsibility to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.
Trump has started speaking in favor of the NATO alliance after ties between Russia and the United States deteriorated over the recent US missile strike against government targets in Syria.
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In a message to Russia, Trump this week backed the expansion of NATO by approving Montenegro’s accession to the alliance.
Russia has opposed Montenegro joining NATO, calling it a "provocation" that would reinforce the alliance's presence in the Balkans.