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President Niinistö: NATO alliance stronger despite Trump’s "blunt" comments

President Sauli Niinistö is due to meet US President Donald Trump next Monday for bilateral talks but he said details of those discussions are still open.

Presidentti Sauli Niinistö Naton huippukokouksessa torstaina 12. heinäkuuta.
President Sauli Niinistö at the NATO summit in Brussels on 12 July. Image: Tatyana Zenkovich / EPA

Speaking on the second and final day of a NATO summit in Brussels on Thursday, President Sauli Niinistö said that a summit between members of the military alliance and US President Donald Trump ended on a note of unanimity and even greater strength.

“At least financially,” Niinistö said during a post-summit press conference.

Trump had previously pulled no punches in denouncing NATO members for not meeting a previously agreed spending target of two percent of GDP on defence. However by the end of the talks on Thursday, he claimed "total credit" for getting members to promise to spend more to shore up the alliance.

Niinistö said that his understanding was that no new spending commitments had been made at the summit, but rather, leaders had re-committed to previously-agreed targets.

Niinistö was not present at the session organised at Trump’s request, where he urged NATO leaders to rapidly increase military spending.

“The people here aren’t very thin-skinned. If we consider the substance of his comments, it is identical to what we have heard from the United States for decades: Assume more responsibility. But he delivered it a bit more bluntly,” Niinistö remarked.

Niinistö said that during the two-day summit, he was able to hold brief discussions with the US president about his imminent encounter with US President Vladimir Putin. Niinistö is also due to meet Trump on Monday for bilateral talks but he said details of those discussions are still open.

“We’ll see what the substance will be and how long it will be,” he commented, adding that the duo didn’t have enough time in Brussels to lay down the groundwork for their Monday meeting.

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