Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against Nato, claiming it was “obsolete” and unfair to the US, with fears he could pull out of the alliance.
With the president expected to attend a London summit for the defence organisation in December, the Press Association takes a look at the background:
– What is Nato?
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed in 1949 to prevent a resurgence of nationalism and militarism in Europe after two world wars and to deter the Soviet Union’s expansion.
Its ranks have swelled to 29 member nations who agree to mutual defence in response to an enemy attack.
“An attack against one ally is considered as an attack against all allies,” as the principle goes.
They pledged in recent years to bring defence spending to at least 2% of each country’s GDP by 2024.
– How does Mr Trump rate it?
As recently as Tuesday in Washington, he said in his State of the Union address that the US had been “treated very unfairly by friends of ours, members of Nato” over a period of years.
During his presidential campaign he called the alliance “obsolete” and criticised other members whose security he thought was being subsidised by the States.
However, he has since U-turned on that stance, to the relief of many, saying: “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.”
His position now is the US commitment to Nato is “very strong”, but he remains vigilant over allies’ attempts to meet spending targets.
– Is this Mr Trump’s first Nato summit?
No. Shortly before his last visit to the UK he attended a summit in Brussels last in characteristically controversial fashion.
He accused a “captive” Germany of being “totally controlled” by Russia, and suggested a doubling of the alliance target of defence spending to 4% of GDP.
Mr Trump also reiterated his famed claim that he is a “very stable genius”, as he secured agreements for extra defence spending.
To sighs of relief, he said it was now “unnecessary” to withdraw from the organisation, as he said the US commitment to Nato remained “very strong”.
– Did he pressure allies to cough up extra spending?
The self-proclaimed deal-maker did add considerable pressure.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg told Fox News last month: “By the end of next year, Nato allies will add 100 billion extra US dollars toward defence. So, we see some real money and some real results.
“And, we see that the clear message from President Donald Trump is having an impact.”
Theresa May, at the time of the last summit, emphasised that the UK was one of five alliance members to meet the 2% target.