President-elect Donald Trump is committed to maintaining “a strong and robust” relationship with America’s trans-Atlantic allies in NATO, President Barack Obama said Monday at his first press conference since the presidential election.
“In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships, so one of the messages I will be able to deliver [to foreign leaders] is his commitment to NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance,” he said.
Obama’s statement, made on the eve of a foreign trip to Europe and Latin America, will likely come as a relief to major U.S. allies like France and Germany, which expressed concern during the campaign over Trump’s isolationist rhetoric. Obama said he will use his upcoming trip to reassure allies.
“I think that’s one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage, on this trip, is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship,” Obama said.
“Those alliances aren’t just good for Europe, they’re good for the United States and they’re vital for the world,” he added.
The message Obama will be carrying abroad seemed at odds with some of Trump’s campaign rhetoric. In addition to questioning the relevance of NATO, and praising Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump also said that the U.S. commitment to mutual defense of its NATO allies would be conditioned upon whether the countries in question had paid their fair share of the costs to the alliance.