Trump jabs Italian PM Gentiloni on meeting financial NATO obligation

April 20 (UPI) — President Donald Trump welcomed Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni to the White House on Thursday, where the two leaders discussed a multitude of issues, including the fight against terrorism.

Gentiloni, Italy’s PM since December, is the latest foreign leader to visit the new American president at the White House since his inauguration in January.

During a joint news conference, Trump and Gentiloni praised each other for allied support. However, the leaders didn’t see eye-to-eye on every issue.

Gentiloni said his government intends to make sure it’s meeting its financial obligations with regard to NATO — an issue Trump has repeatedly raised. The standard is for each member nation to pay about 2 percent of its gross domestic product to the defense union. Last year, Italy spent a little more than 1 percent ($23 billion) to that end — instead of the $43 billion that would represent 2 percent of its GDP.

“The commitment has been made,” he said. “We are used to respecting our commitments.

“This will be a gradual process.”

“I love the question you asked the prime minister,” Trump told a reporter who asked Gentiloni if he planned to meet the 2 percent threshold. “I look forward to his answer. Because I’m going to ask him very soon.”

In 2016, the United States spent nearly twice the amount it was expected to contribute — $608 billion — and Britain also over-paid by nearly $6 billion. Several other European allies, including Germany and Canada, did not meet the 2 percent guideline.

The leaders also spoke about terrorism and security. Gentiloni has previously said he thinks Western allies need to share the burden of the migrant crisis, particularly involving migrants in Libya.

“I do not see a role in Libya,” Trump replied. “We have enough roles. We have a role everywhere.”

The two echoed each other on terrorism, pledging to continue fighting against the Islamic State militant group.

“All nations must condemn this barbaric enemy,” and work towards its “total and complete destruction,” Trump said.

Gentiloni said his military, which has previously aided U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not involved much in Syria and he has no plans to change that.

At the news conference, Trump also said he thinks Congress will pass a renewed effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act — and avoid a government shutdown — before his first 100 days are over next week.

Other foreign leaders who have visited Trump at the White House are British PM Theresa May, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, though, has still not met Trump in-person.


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