The White House has announced US President Donald Trump’s travel plans to Europe for a NATO summit in May, a day after it was revealed that his secretary of state will skip the April 5-6 NATO meeting in Brussels.
Trump will participate in the NATO summit on May 25, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The president “looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO’s role in the fight against terrorism,” Spicer said.
He further said that NATO Secretary General Stoltenberg will travel to the White House on April 12 to meet with Trump.
“They will talk about how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security,” the press secretary added.
NATO members have frequently been attacked by Trump for not paying what he says is their fair share.
“Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States,” he said last week at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“These nations must pay what they owe,” Trump stated.
The NATO agreement requires members to aim for two percent of their GDP with the goal of meeting that by 2024. According to NATO’s annual report from last year, Germany spent 1.2 percent of their GDP on defense but has said they plan to spend more in coming years.
The announcement comes following reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will skip the meeting with NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, but will travel to Russia in the following week.
US officials told Reuters on Monday Tillerson will miss the NATO summit so that he can attend President Donald Trump’s expected April 6-7 talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The disclosed itinerary of Tillerson was likely to send a message to NATO allies that the Trump administration was giving Moscow priority over them.
But the latest announcement from the White House about Trump’s visit to Brussels in May seems to calm nerves of America’s NATO allies.