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U.S. Senate Resurrects NATO Observer Group

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators is resurrecting a NATO observer group, aimed at strengthening congressional ties with the North Atlantic alliance.

The effort, headed by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican Thom Tillis, follows past comments by President Donald Trump that have raised doubts among some NATO members about the U.S. commitment to the alliance.

Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO members for not meeting obligations for defense expenditures. At one point, he appeared to cast doubt on the alliance's most important element: that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all members.

Trump has since walked back on some of those remarks, though he continues to be critical of spending obligations.

The Senate NATO Observer group, which went dormant about a decade ago, will be aimed at bolstering members' ties with Congress, Shaheen said in a statement on February 28.

“Now more than ever, it’s imperative that the United States work closely with NATO to respond to the ever-evolving threats to Western democracies, particularly from the Kremlin,” she said.

Russia has long considered the alliance a threat and a relic of the Cold War, vociferously opposing expansion to the East to admit countries like Montenegro, the newest member.