Obama Says Trump Told Him He Would Support NATO, After Threats to Abandon It

Obama says Trump told him in private meeting that he would respect the alliance.

ByABC News
November 14, 2016, 7:20 PM

— -- President Barack Obama said today that President-elect Donald Trump told him he would maintain a strong commitment to NATO, after the real estate mogul threatened during the campaign to abandon the alliance.

Obama made the remarks at a press briefing at the White House just before departing on his last trip overseas as president — an opportunity he'll take to signal "solidarity with our closest allies," he said.

"In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, and so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance," Obama said.

"I think that's one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip, is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship and a recognition that those alliances aren't just good for Europe," the president added. "They are good for the United States, and they are vital for the world."

During his presidential campaign Trump described NATO as "obsolete" and suggested that he may not honor the organization's most sacred covenant of mutual defense in the face of outside aggression. (The North Atlantic Treaty reads, "An armed attack against one ... shall be considered an attack against them all.")

"If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes," Trump told The New York Times in July when asked if he would defend the Baltic states from an attack by Russia.

Trump has said other NATO members need to spend more on their defense and has complained that not all members are in compliance with their obligation to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on national defense.

Days after the election, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg penned an op-ed in The Guardian warning, "This is no time to question the value of the partnership between Europe and the United States."

Stoltenberg issued a stark reminder, seemingly aimed at Trump, that NATO's mutual defense clause has been invoked only once: when NATO allies deployed in support of the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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