Obama’s Last Meeting with EU Leaders: NATO, Russia and Syria High on Agenda

Written by | Monday, November 21st, 2016

Outgoing US President Obama has visited Europe one last time to discuss the concerns regarding President-Elect, Donald Trump. Both the United States and the European Union have used this chance to reaffirm their commitment to the unity of the NATO military alliance and sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine conflict. Barack Obama met with his French, German, Italian, British and Spanish counterparts in Berlin.

It was the first US-EU summit since the US election and President Obama tried to soothe the looming worries over Donald Trump’s promises to withdraw from the US military commitment to ensure Europe’s security under NATO as well as his remarks on warming up the US ties with Russia despite the Kremlin’s controversial involvement in Syria and Ukraine. In some of Mr Trump’s comments, he called the Alliance “obsolete“ and said that Washington may only defend those states that were attacked if they had paid their NATO dues.

NATO General Secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, tried to ease tensions too by saying that he had spoken to President-Elect and congratulated him on the victory. Mr Stoltenberg also said that he understood Mr Trump’s concerns about military spending and burden-sharing across the Atlantic. He added that a more balanced burden-sharing was necessary between the United States and Europe. “It’s not viable in the long run that the United States pays 70 percent of the total defense spending of NATO,“ he said.

NATO was not the only point on the agenda. The US President and European leaders also raised their concerns over Syria. They said that attacks on the city of Aleppo by Syrian government troops and Russia “should be immediately halted“. They also stressed that the sanctions against Moscow must remain in place until the Kremlin fully implements the Minsk Accords.

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