Frankfurt am Main:
The NATO alliance is an “obsolete” organisation, US President-elect Donald Trump has said in an interview, complaining that the pact had “not bothered about terrorism”.
“I said a long time ago that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago,” Trump told the Monday’s editions of German tabloid Bild and the Times of London.
While he said NATO remains “very important to me,” he returned to a favourite campaign-trail complaint that some NATO allies weren’t paying enough.
“We’re supposed to protect countries. But a lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States.
“With that being said, NATO is very important to me. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much,” he added.
The US accounts for some 70 per cent of spending by NATO nations.
Immediately after Trump’s election victory, the organisation’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg recalled that NATO had been at the heart of transatlantic security since its founding in 1949.
Members of NATO are pledged to defend one another if attacked, with the self-defence clause invoked only once in history—after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
In 2014, leaders of the 22-nation alliance—originally founded in response to the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe -- agreed to return defence spending to their commitment of 2.0 per cent of GDP in the wake of Russian intervention in Ukraine and upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa.
Trump calls for deal with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenal
In a separate interview published by The Times, US President-elect Donald Trump has called for a deal with Russia that would “very substantially” reduce nuclear arsenals and ease sanctions against Moscow.
“They have sanctions on Russia—let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia. I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it,” Trump said on Sunday.
“But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit,” said the president-elect, who has previously expressed admiration for Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
There were no details about the specific sanctions that Trump had in mind, or their range.
Under Barack Obama, the US applied various sanctions against Moscow for its involvement in Ukraine, the Syrian war and for alleged cyber attacks to influence the US election.
Washington’s European allies imposed sanctions against Russia over Ukraine in 2014. Those measures were renewed on December 19.
Trump’s comments were published hours after the outgoing CIA chief John Brennan warned the president-elect does not understand the challenges posed by Russia.
“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions and actions,” Brennan told Fox News, prompting a swift rebuke from Trump.
The president-elect has said it would be an “asset” if he gets along with Putin, while cautioning the duo may not become friendly.
“If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability, because we have a horrible relationship with Russia,” Trump told a press conference on January 11.
“I don’t know that I’m going to get along with Vladimir Putin. I hope I do. But there’s a good chance I won’t,” he added.
Trump was speaking in the wake of a report claiming Putin was behind a campaign of hacking and media manipulation aimed at boosting Trump’s election bid.
The Director of National Intelligence report released on January 6 came just days ahead of the leak of a separate and unsubstantiated report that Russia had gathered compromising personal and financial material on Trump.
The report also alleged close links between Trump and Kremlin aides during the US presidential race, denied by both sides.