U.S. President Donald Trump privately said several times last year that he wanted to withdraw his country from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The New York Times reported on Monday.
The newspaper’s findings, which cited unnamed senior administration officials, are likely to resurface worries of a breakdown in the military alliance that was created in 1949 by the United States, Canada and some European nations.
Those concerns were first sparked last year when the U.S. leader hinted that he could leave the 29-member defense bloc without Congressional approval. At the time, Trump was pushing member countries to increase spending. Since then, however, the Republican has backtracked on that threat.
After a chaotic NATO meeting in July 2018, Trump claimed that allies had committed to his request and said that U.S. withdrawal from the organization would be “unnecessary.”
Responding to the New York Times’ report, a White House official repeated some of Trump’s remarks from July when the president said Washington’s commitment to NATO is “very strong” and the alliance is “very important.” The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment, which was sent outside office hours.
As the Times notes, a weakened NATO is thought to be a major geopolitical goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Trump’s dislike for participation in international organizations is well known to global leaders by now. Early in his White House tenure, the president withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate accord and a massive Pacific trade pact.