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Trump Calls for Increased NATO Involvement in the Middle East

NATO Flag, Albania, February 20, 2012 (Arben Celi/Reuters)

President Trump on Wednesday addressed Iran’s strikes on two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops, saying he plans to ask NATO members to contribute more to handling the situation in the Middle East.

“Today I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process,” Trump announced at the White House.

The president’s remarks came after Iran on Tuesday launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles aimed at two Iraqi bases in Ain al-Asad and Irbil in Kurdistan, which house U.S. soldiers. No casualties resulted from the attacks.

The attacks were retaliation for the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, who was killed Friday in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. The U.S. killed Soleimani after Iran-backed militiamen laid siege to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week, an attack Soleimani signed off on.

Trump has frequently complained that NATO member states lean too heavily on the U.S. for defense spending to protect Europe. Last year, he reportedly floated pulling the U.S. out of NATO should members fail to contribute more.

“At some point, it’s going to have to go higher,” Trump said in April of NATO military spending.

During Wednesday’s address, the president appeared to back away from escalating military conflict with Iran but threatened more economic sanctions on the state terror sponsor.

“As long as I am president of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon,” Trump said. “The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.”

Trump also touted America’s energy independence, saying more options are now available in the Middle East since “we do not need Middle East oil.”

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