The Latest: Trump says NATO ‘no longer obsolete’

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump has done an about-face on NATO, the military alliance he once dismissed as ineffective.

Trump says at a White House news conference with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg (yehnz STOHL’-tehn-burg) that the organization is “no longer obsolete.”

As a candidate Trump said the 28-member organization had outlived its usefulness. Since taking office, he has expressed support for NATO but has reinforced his view that European members must meet a 2014 agreement for member countries to boost defense spending to 2 percent of GDP within a decade. Just the U.S. and a handful of other countries are meeting the target.

Trump says NATO countries will be more secure and the partnership strengthened if other countries pay their fair share and stop relying on the United States.

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1:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump is saying he may reshuffle some of his major domestic priorities.

After Republican leaders pulled their health care bill back from a House vote last month, Trump signaled that he was ready to move on to tax overhaul and other issues.

But on Wednesday, Trump said on Fox Business Network that he’d rather move health care first. That’s despite an ongoing impasse between GOP hardliners and moderates.

“I have to do health care first,” said Trump. “I want to do it first to really do it right.”

Without spending cuts in the health care bill, it’s much harder for Republicans to cut taxes without adding to federal deficits.

“The tax reform and the tax cuts are better if I can do health care first,” Trump said.

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9:45 a.m.

President Donald Trump will welcome Argentina’s president, Mauricio Macri, to the White House at the end of April.

The White House says the April 27 visit will give the leaders a chance to discuss ways to deepen the close partnership between the United States and Argentina.

Trade, security and the deteriorating situation in Venezuela are among the likely topics for discussion.

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8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he’s had “a very good call” with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) dealing with what Trump calls “the menace of North Korea.”

Trump tweets that he spoke with Xi on Tuesday night.

And Trump says in an interview with Fox Business News that solving the standoff with North Korea isn’t “as simple as people would think.”

Trump says China’s long history with North Korea complicates China’s ability to crack down on the North’s nuclear program.

Trump and Xi recently held talks at Trump’s estate in Florida. Trump says he made a deal with Xi that China will get a much better trade ties with the United States if Beijing helps to disarm North Korea.

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8:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump says his chief strategist Steve Bannon joined his campaign “very late,” downplaying the notion that Bannon is an influential member of his team.

In an interview with the New York Post, Trump was asked about infighting among top members of his administration in which Bannon is said to be a center figure.

Trump said, “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late.”

Trump said he had already jumped major hurdles in the campaign by that time, beating “all the senators and all the governors” before he met Bannon.

The president added, “I’m my own strategist and it wasn’t like I was going to change strategies because I was facing crooked Hillary,” referring to general election opponent Hillary Clinton.

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7:42 a.m.

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is not going to get involved in Syria but that he had to act because of chemical attacks there.

His comments, aired Wednesday on Fox Business News, come less than a week after Trump ordered a retaliatory strike on Syria based on U.S. evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad attacked civilians with chemical weapons.

Trump said, “when I saw that, I said we have to do something.”

But he also appeared to rule out deeper involvement, saying: “Are we going to get involved with Syria? No.”

Trump also warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin, in backing Assad, is supporting someone who is “truly an evil person.” That, Trump said, is “very bad for Russia” and “very bad for mankind” and the world.


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