WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump today said he backed the NATO alliance but, with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel at his side, stressed that some member states were not contributing enough.
The Republican leader also said he expected relations with Berlin to feature "fair and reciprocal trade policies," and voiced his support for strong "historic" international institutions -- a possible nod to the European Union and the World Trade Organization.
"I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense," Trump told a joint press conference. "Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe." He rejected a description of his policies as "isolationist," noting: "I'm a free trader but also a fair trader."
"Millions of hardworking US citizens have been left behind by international commerce and together we can shape a future where all of our citizens have a path to financial security," said the billionaire US president. On immigration, another issue dividing the veteran chancellor and the new US president, Trump said immigration was a "privilege" and not a "right."