Reports that President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from NATO over a dispute about defense spending are untrue, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.
“President Trump never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO,” Macron told reporters at the NATO summit in Brussels, according to The Associated Press.
Macron’s denial came in response to reports from Politico, Reuters and other outlets that Trump had made the threat during a morning meeting of NATO leaders. The reports, which cited unnamed NATO officials, quoted Trump as saying Washington “will do our own thing” or “go it alone” if allies don’t come up with a plan to boost spending by January 2019.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite also denied that Trump had threatened to pull out of NATO.
“I would not interpret it that way,” she responded when asked if anything Trump said could be interpreted as a threat to withhold defense capabilities from European allies, Reuters reported.
This year’s NATO summit has been marked by tensions over Trump’s confrontational approach to allies, particularly Germany, about their failure to spend two percent of GDP on defense. The target has been in place since 2006, but most NATO members have fallen far short of the goal. (RELATED: Time For A ‘Strategic Reassessment’ Of NATO? A Military Expert Explains Why Trump Is Right To Question The Alliance)
Macron said Thursday the allies had agreed to a communique that reaffirms a previous commitment to reach two percent of GDP by 2024.
That commitment, made in 2014 after Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, pledges to stop defense spending cuts, boost spending as the economy grows, and reach two percent of GDP “within a decade.”
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