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Kerry condemns Trump's 'strange' and 'disgraceful' rhetoric at NATO

The Hill logo The Hill 7/11/2018 John Bowden
John Kerry wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Hill

Former Secretary of State John Kerry slammed President Trump on Wednesday over the president's comments hammering allies about their contributions to NATO at the group's annual summit.

Kerry, the United States' top diplomat for President Obama's second term, issued a blistering statement on Twitter condemning Trump's remarks to NATO members at the summit in Brussels, Belgium, calling them "strange" and "counterproductive."

"I've never seen a president say anything as strange or counterproductive as President Trump's harangue against NATO and Germany. It was disgraceful, destructive, and flies in the face of actual American interests," Kerry said.

"Why would an American president whose first NATO meeting last year was a disaster, show up in Belgium this year just to prove he doesn't understand how vital alliances have made a huge difference for the security of the United States and the lives of Europeans?" Kerry continued.

He also accused Trump of showing "woeful ignorance of the work his predecessor's administration did to increase European defense spending."

Kerry's remarks came after Trump aired a number of grievances against NATO - largely surrounding foreign contributions to the group and concerning Germany - while speaking to reporters ahead of a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.

"Many countries are not paying what they should. And, frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they're delinquent, as far as I'm concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them," Trump said.

"So if you go back 10 or 20 years, you'll just add it all up. It's massive amounts of money is owed," he added.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, praised NATO on Twitter, calling it the "most successful alliance in history."

"All #NATO allies have committed to extending this success through increased defense spending, deterrence and defense, and fighting terrorism. Weakness provokes; strength and cohesion protects. This remains our bedrock belief," Pompeo wrote.

Kerry, who led the State Department from 2013 to 2017, has been a vocal critic of many of Trump's foreign policy moves since entering office, including his decision to pull the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal and withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

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