U.S. President Donald Trump says the United States "strongly" backs NATO but that members of the military alliance must earmark more money for defense spending.
Trump said in a February 6 speech before U.S. military personnel at Central Command in Tampa, Florida, that Washington will make a "full historic investment in the armed forces and show the entire world that the United States stands with those who stand for freedom."
"That also means getting our allies to pay their fair share. They're very unfair to us. We strongly support NATO. We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing," Trump said.
Trump has previously rattled NATO members -- and drawn praise from the Kremlin -- for calling the military alliance "obsolete."
But he has also said NATO is "very important for him."
The White House said on February 5 that Trump discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine during a call with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and agreed to attend a meeting of alliance leaders later this year.
Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, dpa, and AFP