The pattern of learning transition news from foreign leaders continues.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke with President-elect Donald Trump on the phone Friday to congratulate him on his election victory and discuss the organization’s “enduring importance,” NATO shared in a readout of the call.
Trump and Stoltenberg spoke about “how NATO is adapting to the new security environment, including to counter the threat of terrorism” and agreed that “progress has been made on fairer burden-sharing” when it comes to defense spending among members “but that there is more to do.” Stoltenberg, a former prime minister of Norway, said that he “looked forward to welcoming President-elect Trump to Brussels for the NATO Summit next year to discuss the way forward,” the statement said.
The call was not announced by Trump’s transition team in its scheduling update Friday morning.
Trump leveled pointed criticisms at NATO at times during the campaign, questioning its relevance in today’s world and suggesting that if he won, the United States might not automatically aid small Baltic states under a hypothetical attack from Russia.
“If they fulfill their [financial] obligations to us … the answer is yes,” Trump told the New York Times in July. His then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort tried to walk back the comment, saying Trump simply wants NATO “modernized.”
In late September, Trump’s tone seemed to change. “When I am president, we will strengthen NATO,” he said during a speech at the Polish National Alliance in Chicago.
Trump has become an all-consuming topic for Stoltenberg in the past 10 days: The secretary general spoke about the incoming U.S. president at an event organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States on Friday as well.
“I’m absolutely confident that President Trump will maintain American leadership in the alliance and will maintain a strong U.S. commitment to European security,” Stoltenberg said during a question-and-answer session.
“Two World Wars and the Cold War taught us that NATO is important for stability in Europe,” he said. “But stability in Europe is also important for the United States.”
By Elise Viebeck