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Trump asks NATO to do more in Mideast

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday he would ask NATO to step up its involvement in the Middle East, an unexpected request from a president who in the past has questioned the relevance of the transatlantic alliance and split with some member nations over his approach to Iran.

Trump didn’t detail what further involvement he wants from the 29-member alliance. But last month he called on NATO allies to do more in combating the remnants of the Islamic State group, including his long-standing demand for them to take back and prosecute foreign fighters from their countries.

“Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process,” Trump said during his first public comments on Iran’s military strikes targeting U.S. troops stationed in Iraq. The strikes did not cause any U.S. or Iraqi casualties.

Trump spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg by phone Wednesday about the situation.

“They agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism,” NATO said in a statement.

The administration has been at odds with some leading NATO members, including Britain, Germany and France, over Trump’s 2018 decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear agreement that had been brokered during the Obama administration.

The accord limited Iran’s uranium enrichment program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. Trump and other critics felt the deal gave Tehran too many economic benefits without doing enough to prevent Iran from eventually developing a nuclear weapon.

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