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Donald Trump says US may not defend Nato allies under attack if he is president

Published 21/07/2016

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets delegates on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSONJIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich waves to the crowd after delivering a speech on the third day of the Republican National Convention on July 20, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L)shakes hands with vice presidential candidate Mike Pence at the end of the third day of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets vice presidential candidate Mike Pence after his speech on day three of the Republican National Convention at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 20, 2016. AFP/Getty Images
Donald Trump has been formally nominated as the Republican Party's candidate for president in this year's White House race (AP)

The US may not come to the aid of its Nato allies under attack if Donald Trump becomes president because domestic issues in America must be given priority, the Republican hopeful has said.

Mr Trump's remarks are at odds with Nato’s core principle of collective defence for members, which has been in place since the formation of the alliance at the beginning of the Cold War.

The US, he said, needs to try to “fix our own mess” before coming to the aid of foreign partners.

I don’t think we have a right to lecture,” Mr Trump said in an interview with the New York Times. “Look at what is happening in our country.

“How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?”

He said that under his leadership, the US would first consider countries’ contribution to the Nato alliance before coming to their aid, and added that other member states should begin bearing more of the defence costs borne by Washington.

Mr Trump’s comments could cause anxiety among Baltic states, many of which see Nato as a key guard against Russian belligerence.

When asked if the US would automatically protect these countries from Russian aggression, he said it would depend on their contributions: “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”

Boris Johnson backs Nato's mutual defence doctrine after Trump claims  

The world would learn to adjust to his approach, Mr Trump said. “I would prefer to be able to continue” with existing international agreements, he said, but only if America was not asked to continue to pay for what he called an era of American largesse he claimed was no longer affordable.

Speaking about plans to have a less interventionist foreign policy, Mr Trump highlighted economic concerns in the US, and said he would press on with his “America First” rallying cry.

“If we decide we have to defend the United States, we can always deploy” from American soil, he said, “and it will be a lot less expensive.”

He added: “We are going to take care of this country first, before we worry about everyone else in the world.”

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