President Donald Trump meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Wednesday at the White House. It's the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.
It comes as tensions remain high between the U.S. and Russia and on the heels of the president's airstrike against Syria in retaliation for President Bashar Assad's chemical attack against his people.
You may remember during the campaign, then candidate Trump, questioned the need for the U.S. to participate in NATO.
At a joint press conference with Stoltenberg at the White House Trump explained his change, “I said it was obsolete – it’s no longer obsolete,” he said, crediting the alliance for now taking on the fight against terrorism.
In fact, he’s just given U.S. approval to allow a new country into NATO, giving the green light for Montenegro to join. The small country has Russian ties and Vladimir Putin opposed the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe – perhaps sweetening the deal for Trump.
Meanwhile, both leaders are aligned in their goal to have all NATO countries pay the agreed 2% of their GDP on defense.
Trump called out German Chancellor Angela Merkel for this during her visit to the White House and Merkel promised Germany would increase its defense spending.
The men discussed a wide variety of issues including Syria, Iraq and North Korea.
Meanwhile, In a vote of the UN Security Council condemning the chemical attack in Syria, China abstained. A move Trump called “wonderful”. He spoke to President Xi Jinping last night and says he was not surprised that China abstained.
Trump restated how much the two men bonded during Xi’s recent visit to Mar-a-Lago. A senior administration official later elaborated saying the first ladies also hit it off and how Xi enjoyed spending time with Trump’s grandchildren. The daughter of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump sang to President Xi in Chinese.
“He wants to do the right thing” on North Korea says President Trump about Xi, “I told him the way to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea.”