Trump, UK’s Cameron discuss NATO defense spending in Florida meeting

By Thomson Reuters Apr 9, 2024 | 10:37 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donald Trump and British Foreign Minister David Cameron had dinner on Monday at the Republican presidential candidate’s Florida home, where they discussed “the need for NATO countries to meet their defense spending requirements,” Trump’s campaign said on Tuesday.

The meeting kicked off a visit by Cameron to the U.S. during which he will meet Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington and press lawmakers in Congress to pass an aid package for Ukraine.

Over dinner at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, the two men discussed “the upcoming U.S. and UK elections, policy matters specific to Brexit, the need for NATO countries to meet their defense spending requirements, and ending the killing in Ukraine,” Trump’s campaign said in a statement.

Trump has frequently taken aim at the failure of many of NATO’s 32 members to meet a defense spending target of at least 2% of gross domestic product, raising concerns in Europe about the transatlantic military alliance’s future if Trump beats incumbent President Joe Biden in a November election.

In February, Trump sparked fierce criticism from Western officials for suggesting he would not protect countries that fail to meet the alliance’s defense spending targets, and would even encourage Russia to attack them. The U.S. military forms the core of the alliance’s military power.

European leaders have been reaching out to U.S. lawmakers, business leaders and think tanks as part of efforts to influence the Trump camp about defense spending, Europe’s role in U.S.-China relations, and Ukraine aide.

A British Foreign Office spokesperson said on Monday that Cameron was meeting with Trump as part of “routine international engagement,” describing it as “standard practise for ministers to meet with opposition candidates”.

Last week, Cameron said that while in Washington he would meet Republican House of Representatives Speaker Mike Johnson and urge him to pass a $60 billion package of military aid for Ukraine, which has been held up for months.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery; Writing by Ismail Shakil; editing by Rami Ayyub)