The news circulated since Tuesday morning, citing a New York Times article: Donald Trump wrote to NATO allies to complain about the failure to meet the 2% of GDP defense target in an attempt to commitments. And Portugal was on the US President's list of correspondence, along with other countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Canada.
But, as the Observer learned from diplomatic sources, this letter – to exist – was never received in Lisbon. Neither via the Prime Minister's office – Trump will have written to the heads of government of the allied countries – nor via NATO. And even if it had arrived, the same sources say, the subject was outdated after the government's and the President's meetings in Washington last week.
On the one hand, it would make sense for the White House to include Lisbon as the addressee of this letter (defense spending in Portugal does not exceed 1.32% of GDP), on the other hand it seemed inconsistent with the joint declaration signed by the two countries during the visit of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to the United States in late June after a meeting with Donald Trump
NATO issues were on the agenda of the bilateral talks and the joint final communiqué, released on June 27 , it became explicit that the two Presidents spoke of "the joint efforts to strengthen" the Atlantic Alliance, including "Portugal's credible plan to achieve the Alliance's defense spending targets."
Days before the arrival of the President of the Republic to Washington, the Foreign Minister had also prepared the way. Augusto Santos Silva arrived earlier and held working meetings with the US administration, including his counterpart, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
At the time, on June 22, the US State Department reported that the two heads of diplomacy had reaffirmed the mutual commitment between the United States and Portugal to increase NATO defense expenditure.
In other words, steps were taken to resolve a problem that has often been on the agenda of US diplomacy,
The compromise reached in 2014 at the NATO summit in Wales, where the present member countries agreed to set a target of 2% of GDP in Defense expenditure by 2024. At present, the majority European countries and Canada have not yet reached this value, and the United States has publicly expressed the "frustration" with the greater preponderance they have assumed in NATO compared to the other countries.
Some of these letters have already been circulated in the international press, including the one sent to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and to the heads of government of Germany, Belgium or Norway "
" There is growing frustration in the United States that some allies have not taken on the responsibilities as promised, "the President wrote in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the New York Times had access to. 19659002] "The United States continues to devote more resources to the defense of Europe when the mainland economy, including the German economy, is doing well and security challenges remain. This is no longer sustainable for us, "Trump wrote.
The letters, personalized for each of the leaders, will be sent on June 19, prior to Trump's meeting with Marcelo, but at a time when both countries
Curiously, the Kings of Spain were also in Washington days before the Portuguese President, but this did not prevent the reception of a letter in the Palace of the Moncloa in Madrid, after the visit, of According to El País.
Also the Spanish newspaper included Portugal in the group of countries that received correspondence from the White House on NATO. But in Lisbon, they guarantee various sources to the Observer, nobody saw such a letter.