Barack Obama: Donald Trump Will Honor NATO Commitments to Reassure World Leaders

Donald Trump and Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama meets President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office, Washington, November 10. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

President Barack Obama has told reporters that President-elect Donald Trump will maintain the U.S.'s "core strategic relationships," including its partnership with NATO, despite Trump's remarks to the contrary.

Obama was speaking before his last overseas trip this week, in which he is visiting Greece, Germany and Peru in a bid to calm concerns over the shock election result and convince officials that Trump will make a suitable president come his inauguration in January.

Trump repeatedly criticized NATO during his presidential campaign and said that the U.S. might not protect all member states, unless they paid "their fair share" to the organization.

His comments particularly alarmed the Baltic states who fear Russian aggression, the BBC reported.

The president-elect's words ran counter to Article 5 of NATO's treaty, which requires all allies to defend a member state if it is attacked.

Trump also appeared to forget that the only time NATO has invoked its self-defense clause—that an attack on one member state is an attack on them all—was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

Writing in the Observer newspaper on November 12, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted: "This was more than just a symbol. NATO went on to take charge of the operation in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 [European soldiers] have paid the ultimate price in an operation that is a direct response to an attack against the United States."

While the U.S. has long pushed for NATO member states to increase their financial commitments, it has never suggested that it would disregard the conditions of NATO membership. It seems, however, that Obama has successfully persuaded Trump to abandon some of his inflammatory rhetoric.

"One of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the transatlantic alliance," Obama told reporters at the White House, according to The Guardian. "I think that one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage during this trip is to let [officials] know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship."

Obama's visit comes a day after the Kremlin announced that Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin had spoken by phone and discussed strengthening U.S.-Russian relations.

The president also said that he had expressed to Trump the importance of sending "some signals of unity" to minority groups and women who felt the president-elect had victimized or belittled them.