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* Trump agrees to meet with NATO leaders later this year *

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump agreed to meet with the leaders of NATO countries in May during a call with the alliance's secretary general on Sunday, in addition to reiterating the United States support for the organization.

Trump told NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg he will attend a NATO meeting in Brussels later this year during a phone call on Sunday evening, in addition to discussing the need to solve the conflict in Ukraine and the larger role of the alliance in the world, White House and NATO officials said readouts of the call.

During his campaign for president, Trump called NATO outdated and worried some members of the alliance by challenging whether the United States would rush to defend a member nation not meeting its financial obligations.

Sunday, however, Trump told Stoltenberg the United States has "strong support" for NATO."

With the U.S. Army deploying with NATO forces in Eastern Europe, increased violence along the border in Ukraine and an international effort against terrorism, Stoltenberg and Trump "reconfirmed the importance of the alliance in troubled times," NATO officials said.

Stoltenberg and Trump discussed "the need for continued efforts to ensure fair burden-sharing among all NATO allies," which is one of the president's biggest issues with the alliance. In 2014, the 28 members agreed to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense but few of them actually do.


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