BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on the NATO summit in Brussels (all times local):
U.S. President Donald Trump says the U.S. commitment to NATO “remains very strong” despite reports that he threated to pull out in a dispute over defense spending.
Trump says at a news conference Thursday in Brussels that he told “people” that he would be “very unhappy” if they didn’t increase their commitments.
Trump says the U.S. has been paying “probably 90 percent of the costs of NATO.”
Trump adds that he was “extremely unhappy with what was happening and they have substantially upped their commitment.”
NATO had no immediate comment.
Trump once declared NATO “obsolete.” He says Thursday: “I believe in NATO.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told reporters in Brussels that “there was a clear commitment to NATO by all” at an emergency session of the military alliance.
She said that U.S. President Donald Trump raised the topic of better burden-sharing among NATO members again, “as has been discussed for months,” and that, “we made clear that we’re on the way.”
Trump has several times assailed Germany for not spending a large enough proportion of its gross domestic product on defense.
Merkel stressed that Germany is NATO’s second-biggest contributor when it comes to troops.
Two officials at the NATO summit in Brussels say the alliance is meeting in an emergency session amid demands from U.S. President Donald Trump for all members to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.
Officials said that non-members of the alliance had been asked to leave the room early Thursday and that everyone in the room had been told to leave their phones outside.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is insisting that Georgia will one day join the world’s biggest security alliance, despite separatist ambitions in parts of the former Soviet republic.
Stoltenberg said Thursday: “Georgia will become a member of NATO.” He said the 29-nation alliance supports the territorial integrity of Georgia, including its sovereignty over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008, which led to the regions declaring independence. Russia has since been supporting them financially and militarily.
Despite Georgia’s important contribution to NATO operations, the alliance is unlikely to invite the country in until the conflict with the two regions has been resolved.