US President Donald Trump is to attend the NATO Heads of State and Government meeting in May, the White House announced on Tuesday. The meeting will take place on 25 May 2017 in Brussels, Belgium and was announced earlier on Tuesday by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
"The President looks forward to meeting with his NATO counterparts to reaffirm our strong commitment to NATO, and to discuss issues critical to the alliance, especially allied responsibility-sharing and NATO's role in the fight against terrorism," a statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read.
The statement also said that Stoltenberg will visit the White House on 12 April "where they will talk about how to strengthen the alliance to cope with challenges to national and international security."
The announcement will come as a relief after it was reported that US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson will miss his first meeting of NATO foreign ministers. He has chosen instead to attend a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping before heading to Russia.
During a press briefing, the State Department pushed back against the idea that Tillerson's decision was a signal of the US's waning commitment to NATO, instead reiterating that the Secretary of State would be meeting with nearly all NATO allies at the Meeting of Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS. "While he won't specifically be discussing in a group session all of NATO's equities, obviously, he will have an opportunity to do pull-asides with many of these countries," Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner said.
President Trump has continually called on NATO allies to pay more towards the organisation and keep to a commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defence. During his campaign he continually lambasted allies for not paying their 'fair share' towards defence and after German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the White House, he tweeted that Germany "owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"