by Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner
Speaking at an unveiling for the proposed National Environmental Policy Act regulations, President Trump said he wants to expand the scope of NATO to include Middle Eastern nations.
“I think NATO should be expanded, and we should include the Middle East, absolutely,” Trump said.
Answering questions from the press for the first time since airstrikes killed top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis, Trump said it would be better if Middle Eastern nations were involved in NATO.
“If you add the words, if you add the two words Middle East at the end of [NATO]. Because that’s a big problem, that’s a big source of problems. NATO-ME, doesn’t that work beautifully?”
The president, who has threatened trade sanctions if NATO allies don’t pay more into the military alliance, claimed that countries preferred to deal with former President Barack Obama.
“We had a meeting with all of the countries, I said, ‘you’ve got to pay.’ I mean, I can imagine they don’t like me as much as Obama and other people, but [they] gotta pay. We’re protecting. You got to pay,” added Trump.
Tensions between Iran and the United States boiled over last week with both nations ordering airstrikes after thousands of Iranian-backed militants surrounded the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Trump tweeted “All is well” after more than a dozen ballistic missiles were fired at al Asad Air Base in western Iraq and an air base in Erbil on Wednesday morning.