NATO chief set to address Congress amid tensions

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Published on April 3, 2019 - Duration: 02:09s

NATO chief set to address Congress amid tensions

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his pressure on NATO nations to pay more for their defense is leading to tens of billions of dollars more in contributions, but the allies may need to boost their budgets even more.

Nathan Frandino reports.

NATO chief set to address Congress amid tensions

Amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and NATO, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday met with President Donald Trump ahead of Wednesday's highly anticipated speech to a joint session of Congress.

U.S. lawmakers invited the NATO leader last month in a rare bipartisan move, amid an off-and-on public feud between the security organization and Trump.

Relations have been strained since even before Trump entered the White House.

2016: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "I said it's obsolete and it's costing too much." Trump's comments then and since taking office.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "We pay much more than 2 percent, which is probably unfair." …have prompted concerns about whether in an emergency, the U.S. would abide by NATO's Article 5, the principle that an attack against one ally should be seen as an attack against all.

NATO formed some 70 years ago in the wake of WWII to counter potential aggression from Russia.

Its continued strength has taken on new urgency amid signs Russia is working on several fronts to beef up its military... and amid reports Moscow has stepped up interference in Western elections, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller's recent probe found it did in the 2016 presidential race.

Trump has deepened worries with his calls for closer ties with Russia.

Trump's chief demand has been that NATO member nations pay a greater share of defense costs, which he said was improving when he met Stoltenberg on Tuesday.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "We've worked together in getting some of our allies to pay their fair share.

It's called burden sharing.

And as you know, when I came, it wasn't so good.

And now they're catching up." Last month, NATO's 2018 annual report showed that its members had moved closer to a pledge to spend 2 percent of national economic output on defense every year.

In the Oval Office, Stoltenberg said he viewed the increase as a positive sign.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG, SAYING: "In North America, United States, and Europe, we are doing more now than we have in many years and that shows the strength of our alliance." Stoltenberg will make his case to Congress at 11 a.m.

On Wednesday.

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