Donald Trump is committed to maintaining America's core strategic relationships, including NATO, outgoing President Barack Obama said today as he embarked on his last foreign trip while in office to reassure concerned allies after his successor's election.
Throughout his campaign for the presidency, Trump has suggested that the world’s most powerful military alliance should be run like an insurance scheme or a protection racket. In a typical remark on the issue this summer, he said allies that don’t “reasonably reimburse” the U.S. for the costs of defense should expect to be told, “Congratulations, you will be defending yourself.”
"In my conversation with the President-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships. And so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance," Obama told White House reporters here before leaving on a week-long three-nation trip.
"I think that's one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage, during this trip, is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America's commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship, and a recognition that those alliances aren't just good for Europe, they're good for the United States, they're good for the United States, and they're vital for the world," he said.
Obama would be travelling to Greece, Germany and Peru.
"I look forward to my first visit in Greece. And then, in Germany, I'll visit with Chancellor Merkel, who's probably been my closest international partner these past eight years. I'll also signal our solidarity with our closest allies, and express our support for a strong, integrated, and united Europe," Obama said.
"It's essential to our national security and it's essential to global stability. And that's why the Transatlantic Alliance and the NATO Alliance have endured for decades under Democratic and Republican administrations," he said.
In Peru, he will meet with the leaders of countries that have been the focus of foreign policy through the re-balance in the Asia Pacific.
"This is a time of great change in the world. But America has always been a pillar of strength and a beacon of hope to people around the globe. And that's what it must continue to be," he said.
Obama said American people recognise that the world has shrunk, that it's interconnected, and that they are not going to put that genie back in the bottle.
"The American people recognise that their careers, or their kids' careers are going to have to be more dynamic -- that they might not be working at a single plant for 30 years, but they might have to change careers. They might have to get more education. They might have to retool or retrain," Obama said.
"I think the American people are game for that. They want to make sure that the rules of the game are fair. What that means is that if you look at surveys around Americans' attitudes on trade, the majority of the American people still support trade.
"But they're concerned about whether or not trade is fair, and whether we've got the same access to other countries' markets as they have with us; is there just a race to the bottom when it comes to wages, and so forth," he added.