by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Donald Trump during their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House

  • 02 Apr. 2019 -
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  • Last updated: 03 Apr. 2019 01:05

Press spray with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US President Donald Trump

President Trump: Thank you very much. It’s a great honour to have Secretary General Stoltenberg of NATO with us. We have developed a very great relationship and I’m very happy to say the Secretary General will be with us for quite a long time. Because he was just extended. So congratulations on that.

Secretary General Stoltenberg: Thank you very much.

President Trump: That’s a big thing. And I was with you 100 percent. I think you know that, I felt very strongly about that.

We work together at getting some of our Allies to pay their fair share. It’s called burden-sharing, and as you know, when I came it wasn’t so good. And now they’re catching up. We have 7 of the 28 countries are currently current. And the rest are trying to catch up, and they will catch up. And some of them have no problems because they haven’t been paying and they’re very rich.

But we’re looking at the 2 percent pf GDP level, and at some point I think it’s going to have to go higher than that – I think probably it should be higher – but we’re a level of 7 out of the 28. The United States pays for a very big share of NATO, a disproportionate share.

But the relationship with NATO’s been very good. The relationship with the Secretary General’s been outstanding. And I think tremendous progress has been made. If you look, in fact you showed me this originally yourself, if you look at the charts and the different things, you go back 10 and 15 years and it’s a roller-coaster ride down in terms of payment. And since I came to office it’s a rocket-ship up. We’ve picked up over 140 billion dollars of additional money, and we look like we’re going to have at least another 100 billion more in spending by the nations, the 28 nations. And that’s exclusive of the United States. We’ll have another 100 billion dollars more by 2020, or a little bit into 2020.

So tremendous progress has been made, and NATO is much stronger because of that progress. And Mister Secretary General, it’s a great honour to have you with us at the White House. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Secretary General Stoltenberg: Thank you so much, Mister President. And once again thank you for hosting me and my delegation once again in the White House. And it’s great to be back, great to see you. And thank you for your strong commitment to NATO, to our Alliance, and to our transatlantic bond. And especially for your very strong leadership on burden-sharing.

Because as you just mentioned, after years of cutting defence budgets, NATO Allies have now started to invest more. And by the end of next year, they will have added 100 billion more into their defence budgets since you took office. And that helps. And it proves also that NATO is a strong Alliance.

We have increased the readiness of our forces, we have stepped up in our joint fight against terrorism, and we are investing more. So actually, North America, United States, and Europe, we are doing more together now than we have done for many, many years. And that also shows the strength of this Alliance in a year where we’re actually celebrating the 70th anniversary of NATO.

So it’s great to see you, I look forward to our meeting and thank you for your support.

President Trump: Well thank you, and it has been an honour. And we’re very proud of what’s happened over the last couple of years with respect to the relationship and to NATO. A lot of the media doesn’t understand what took place, but a tremendous amount of money was invested by other nations, which was a fair thing from our standpoint, the standpoint of the United States. And a lot more money will be invested. But we’ve been picking up a tremendous and disproportionate share, and we just want fairness. I have to have fairness for our taxpayers too, and I think that’s what’s happening, and I very much appreciate it. Thank you very much.