In a letter to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, published by the Norwegian daily newspaper Verdens Gang, US leader Trump lauded Norway as a "gracious host to 350 US Marines," a contributor to the multinational battle group in Lithuania, and a buyer of F-35 fighter jets but slammed the country's failure to meet NATO's spending target.
While lauding Norway as the second-highest spender per capita in the alliance behind only the US, Trump pointed out that Norway remained the only NATO ally sharing a border with Russia that lacked a credible plan to spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, making his message crystal clear.
"I understand domestic political pressures, as I myself have expended considerable political capital to increase our own defense spending. It will however, become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries continue to fail to meet our shared collective security commitments," Trump wrote.
Norwegian Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen is not surprised over the letter, but stressed his country took its commitment in earnest and was well on track to meet the demand of 2 percent of the country's GDP, which NATO members agreed upon at a 2014 summit in Cardiff, Wales.
During her meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington DC, Norwegian Foreign Minister and former Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide stressed that Norway has increased its defense budget by 24 percent since 2014. The Ministry of Defense previously estimated that Norway will spend between 1.58 and 1.71 percent of its GDP by 2020.
In her recent semi-annual summary speech, Prime Minister Solberg promised to increase defense spending, but said she couldn't guarantee that her country would reach the 2 percent mark by 2024.
"We cannot guarantee that we will have reached the 2 percent goal by 2024, but we will set as a premise for the long-term plan that we will increase further," Solberg said, as quoted by NRK, voicing her commitment to the results of the Cardiff summit.
Last year, Norway used 1.62 percent of its GDP on defense, well below the target. Should the Scandinavian country reach the 2 percent level by 2024, the defense expenditure would increase by 30 percent in addition to the previous hike.