Trump, Merkel agree on NATO’s ‘fundamental importance’

Washington, Jan 29 (IANS) US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed during a telephone conversation on the “fundamental importance” of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) for transatlantic relations.

Trump, who had called that organization “obsolete,” and Merkel agreed on Saturday on “the NATO alliance’s fundamental importance to the broader transatlantic relationship and its role in ensuring the peace and stability of our North Atlantic community,” the White House said in a statement, Efe news reported.

“The leaders recognized that NATO must be capable of confronting 21st century threats and that our common defense requires appropriate investment in military capabilities to ensure all Allies are contributing their fair share to our collective security,” the official note said.

Many times during last year’s electoral campaign, Trump had called NATO “obsolete,” and this month repeated that opinion in two interviews with European media.

The new US president also criticized America’s NATO partners in Europe last year for not contributing a fair share of funds to the alliance, and suggested he might even reduce US support for the transatlantic bloc, while simultaneously talking about better relations with Russia.

Trump and Merkel also spoke Saturday about the “need to strengthen already robust cooperation in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, and to work to stabilize conflict areas in the Middle East and North Africa.”

The president and chancellor talked as well about Russia and the crisis in Ukraine, and the importance of close German-US cooperation for the peace and security of both countries.

Finally, Trump on Saturday accepted Merkel’s invitation to attend the G20 Summit of developed and emerging countries in the German city of Hamburg next July.

The first official talks between Trump and Merkel since the magnate took office on January 20 lasted “45 minutes”, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Twitter.

That dialogue came on a day of telephone conversations Saturday between Trump and several other national leaders, including Francois Hollande of France, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and Vladimir Putin of Russia.

–IANS

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