U.S. President Donald Trump and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg are meeting in Washington on Thursday amid conflicts between the United States and its European allies in the West’s key defense organization.
Trump last week rebuffed opposition from European leaders and withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 international accord curbing Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Three European signatories to the pact — Britain, France and Germany — are continuing their support for the restraints on Tehran, even as Trump has contended the agreement does nothing to thwart Iran’s ballistic missile tests or its military advances in the Middle East.
“We are working on finding a practical solution” about the Iran deal, Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s top diplomat, said earlier this week. “We are talking about solutions to keep the deal alive.”
In addition, Trump has imposed tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports, including Europe, although he later exempted the 28-nation European Union until June 1.
Early in his presidency, Trump was a vocal critic of NATO. He contended that other countries in the West’s defense alliance against Russia aggression formed at the end of World War II had not been meeting NATO’s goal of spending 2 percent of their individual countries’ national economic output on defense.
Defense spending has increased in some NATO countries, but alliance says currently only Greece, Estonia, Britain, Poland, Romania and the U.S. among NATO’s 28 members meet the 2 percent threshold, although several other countries are close.