Photo of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg by Francois Lenoir/Reuters

NATO chief welcomes Trump’s view that group is not ‘obsolete’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that he welcomed President Donald Trump’s view that the organization is not “obsolete,” a criticism Mr. Trump once leveled as a candidate in last year’s presidential election.

“I welcome the fact that [Trump] clearly stated today that NATO is not obsolete,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff, shortly after appearing at a joint press conference with the president at the White House.

At the press conference, Trump noted he had called the alliance “obsolete” during the 2016 race. Pointing to NATO’s work in fighting terrorism, Trump said, “It is no longer obsolete.”

As a candidate, Trump criticized member nations for not fulfilling their financial obligations to NATO under a treaty that requires countries to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

In the NewsHour interview, Stoltenberg said NATO members were “increasing contributions” to the group and added that he expected the trend to continue.

“We have turned the corner after many many years of declining in defense spending” in Europe and Canada, he said.

Stoltenberg also touched on NATO’s relationship with Russia and efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan. While “many difficult challenges in Afghanistan” remain, he said, the country is no “longer a safe haven for international terrorists.”

Watch Stoltenberg’s full interview with Woodruff on the April 12 episode of PBS NewsHour.