NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg admitted Thursday the alliance had a “challenging” relationship with the Trump administration and that he had some “difficult” conversations with former U.S. President Donald Trump.
During a joint news briefing with Belgium’s prime minister, Alexander De Croo, at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Stoltenberg was asked about his relationship with the Trump administration and whether he thought the alliance would survive it.
Stoltenberg said despite the differences he and NATO may have had with the former U.S. president, those kinds of challenges are “what makes NATO strong.” He said the alliance has always enjoyed bipartisan support in the United States and that continues.
The NATO chief added that NATO and the United States are doing more together now than they have done in many years.
“We have more exercises, more U.S. troops, increased activities, European and North American allies together in Europe,” the NATO chief said. “So, I think the strength of the transatlantic bond is demonstrated by what you actually do.”
Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump’s insistence on NATO members increasing their defense budgets and playing a bigger role in supporting the alliance militarily made a difference. He said European allies have been stepping up, both in terms of military readiness and increased defense spending.
Prime Minister Croo agreed and said that Europe has taken important steps toward self-reliance. “If we want to have more strategic autonomy for Europe, then we have to play our role,” he said.