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Trump threatens to quit NATO: White House official

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaves the stage after addressing the media at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31, 2017.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson leaves the stage after addressing the media at NATO headquarters in Brussels on March 31, 2017. Virginie Mayo - AFP

US President Donald Trump would consider leaving the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if member states do not follow through with pledges to increase their annual contributions to the Alliance, a senior White House official said.

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our correspondent at the White House

The White House official said, on condition of anonymity, that Trump wants to see faster and more concrete developments at NATO.

This explicit threat to leave the 68-year-old Alliance comes ahead of Trump’s international tour, which includes the NATO summit in Brussels next week (May 25th).

“We’ll either see real changes towards NATO or we’ll try to form a different way of going about things”, the senior White House source said.

"We don't want to be paying for everyone's defence"

Trump begins a five-nation tour this week, starting in Saudi Arabia and finishing at the G7 Summit in Italy.

"The one thing that he doesn't have patience for is this kind of lip service,” the official said.

The lip service he is referring to is NATO member countries unfulfilled pledges to increase their defence spending, a key demand from the Trump administration ahead of the Alliance’s summit in Brussels.

After openly questioning the role of NATO in a post-Cold War era during the 2017 US presidential election campaign, Trump reversed his position last month when he conceded that the Atlantic alliance was no longer “obsolete” because “it is fighting terrorism”.

"So you'll see what he says when he's there (at the summit in Italy), but it's a very serious issue for him and it's a very serious issue for the American people because we don't want to be paying for everyone's defence and it's just not fair to the American taxpayers and it's not something that the president wants to see happen," the official underscored.

China and Russia in G7?

Trump will end this critical first foreign trip in Sicily. The G7 summit, the economic alliance of seven countries, namely France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, could end up being dominated by the issue of the defence Alliance.
Most importantly, according to the White House official speaking on condition of anonymity, Trump appears to be considering whether China and Russia – who was a member but was suspended in the wake of the annexation of Crimea - would be welcome additions to the G7 alliance.

“Whether it’s fully productive to have the G7 without Russia and China there may be something that we would look at”, added the senior White House official.

 

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