President Trump spoke to the secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, on Wednesday, following the president’s nine-minute speech earlier in the day urging the organization to take a larger role in quelling ongoing issues in the Middle East.
A White House spokesman said Trump spoke to Stoltenberg and “emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East,” according to reports by Politico.
The phone call came less than 24 hours after Iran fired 16 short-range ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops, a retaliation to a U.S.-led airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week.
Trump, in his address to the nation, announced he would be imposing further economic sanctions on Iran and said he planned to ask NATO to “become much more involved in the Middle East process.”
After speaking, Trump and Stoltenberg “agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism” and said they would be “in close contact on the issue,” according to a readout of the call.
Following the death of Soleimani, as Iran threatened to retaliate, Stoltenberg announced during a meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Monday that he had “suspended our training on the ground” in Iraq, part of NATO’s responsibility as a member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, citing safety concerns.