Less than a week after President Donald Trump rallied the world behind ending the violence in Syria, he will meet with the top civilian leader of NATO, an organization he criticized during the campaign as “obsolete.”
The top issues will still likely be how much allies are contributing when NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visits the White House for a bilateral meeting with Trump Wednesday. The two will also hold a joint press conference. While contributions will be the priority, issues pertaining to the Middle East, Syria, and the Islamic State will also be high on the agenda.
Just before his inauguration, Trump reiterated his view about NATO member countries not investing enough in their own defense. Under the agreement, member nations pledge to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. However, many fail to meet their obligations.
“This will be a big opportunity for the president to establish himself as the leader of NATO,” Alexander Vershbow, a former deputy secretary of NATO, told The Daily Signal. “Clearly the No. 1 issue will be defense spending.”
Next year, eight of NATO’s 28 member nations are projected to meet the 2 percent of GDP goal.
The previous goal was for each member nation to spend 3 percent on defense, which was determined in 1997. In 2006, that goal declined to 2 percent, Vershbow said.