BRUSSELS - Ahead of meetings this week with NATO leaders, President Donald Trump has called terrorism the “number one” problem currently facing the world, and said we are “making tremendous progress” in the fight against terror.
Trump, meeting Wednesday with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel in Brussels, said the U.S. and NATO will work on “various problems,” but Trump pointed to the suicide bombing Monday in Britain and noted that terrorism is at the top of the list.
“When you see something like that happened a few days ago, you realize how important it is to win this fight. And we will win this fight,” he said.
Trump arrived in Brussels Wednesday afternoon following talks with the pope at the Vatican in Rome. Trump said on Twitter after the meeting he is “more determined than ever to pursue PEACE in our world.”
Aboard Air Force One, on the flight from Italy to Belgium, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump would be “very tough” on NATO allies Thursday and tell them “you need to make sure you're doing your share for your security as well.”
Trump wants to “persuade NATO members to step up and fully meet their obligations under burden sharing the 2 percent of GDP is a target they all agreed to,” Tillerson told reporters.
The defense alliance is expected to give the U.S. president at least one big thing he wants: a commitment to the coalition to fight Islamic State.
“We do think that would be a really important step for them to take,” Tillerson said.
Article 5 endorsement
Trump is likely to allay NATO members' concerns about his administration's commitment to the pact's mutual assistance pledge, something that has been in doubt.
During a ceremony Thursday, Trump is expected to finally endorse Article 5, under which any NATO member agrees to come to the aid of an ally under attack. The only time it has been invoked was when al-Qaida terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.
Prior to Wednesday's meeting with the pope, Trump spent several days touring the Middle East and meeting with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as other leaders in the Muslim world. While speaking to dozens of Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, he called for Muslim unity in the fight against terrorism.
Tillerson said he thinks the Manchester attack will only serve to strengthen ties between the U.S. and NATO in the fight against terrorism.
“I think the horrible attack in Manchester just reminded all of us just why we have to do this,” said the secretary of state. “We have to do it, we can't leave it for someone else to do.”
After participating in the inauguration of a new NATO headquarters and a meeting of the alliance's leaders, the president will return to Italy, specifically the island of Sicily, for the Group of Seven summit.