President Trump called out North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) leaders Thursday for not paying their fair share for defense and urged them to focus on fighting terrorism during the revealing of the 9/11 memorial at the new NATO headquarters in Brussels.
According to Trump, 23 of the 28 member nations of the military alliance have not paid their fair share for defense, which has unfairly fallen on the backs of the American taxpayers.
In 2014, NATO allies agreed to pay 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward defense, according to the Independent.
Trump also claimed that in the last eight years the U.S. has spent more on defense than all of the allies combined.
"And I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost. I refuse to do that, but it does look beautiful," Trump added.
Trump also asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester terror attack, where a suicide bomber killed at least 22 and injured over 50 at an Ariana Grande concert. Afterwards, he asked for everyone to unite in fighting terrorism around the world, and called the terrorists "losers."
On the campaign trail, Trump had been less than supportive of NATO, calling the organization "obsolete" and too expensive. He even weighed whether the U.S. would stay involved with the military alliance, CBS News reported.
"NATO was set up at a different time. NATO was set up when we were a richer country. We’re not a rich country anymore. We’re borrowing, we’re borrowing all of this money. ... NATO is costing us a fortune and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO but we’re spending a lot of money," Trump said to the Washington Post in March 2016.
N.A.T.O. is obsolete and must be changed to additionally focus on terrorism as well as some of the things it is currently focused on!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016
Trump's stance on NATO has since softened. He's no longer calling the organization obsolete, but his speech on Thursday proved that he has held his ground on calling on NATO allies to fulfill their financial commitment to defense and also have a greater role in fighting terrorism, especially against ISIS in Syria, as the Independent has previously reported.
Some had expected that Trump would also break his silence on Article 5, which is NATO's pledge to defend all allies, the Independent reports, though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson beat him to the punch as Trump arrived in Brussels, telling reporters that the U.S. does support it.
"The only time Article 5 has been invoked was in 9/11," Tillerson said.
Looking to the future, Trump asked NATO to put a greater focus on terrorism and threats from Russia, which might come as a surprise to some NATO leaders since they have expressed concern over his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, USA Today reports.