In NATO Speech, Trump Is Vague About Mutual Defense Pledge

“Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” Mr. Trump declared, as the leaders shifted uncomfortably behind him, shooting one another sidelong glances.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States,” he added. “And many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years.”

Standing before a large piece of twisted wreckage from the World Trade Center that will serve as a memorial at the headquarters, Mr. Trump promised to “never forsake the friends that stood by our side” in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks — a pledge that White House officials later said was an affirmation of mutual defense.

But to European leaders, Mr. Trump’s words fell far short of an explicit affirmation of NATO’s Article 5 clause, the “one-for-all, all-for-one” principle that has been the foundation of the alliance since its establishment 68 years ago, after World War II.

“I think he was stingy with the U.S. commitment and very generous with his criticisms,” said Fabrice Pothier, a former head of policy planning at NATO and a senior associate at Rasmussen Global, a political consulting firm.

White House officials said Mr. Trump’s message on financial contributions had galvanized NATO to confront the issue. At a closed meeting after his speech, they said, the leaders unanimously approved a resolution on burden-sharing and on fighting terrorism.

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Trump Tells NATO Members to Pay ‘Fair Share’

In a statement at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, President Trump said that members of the alliance must “finally contribute” their fair share to defense spending and…

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