A bipartisan group of US senators has organized a private meeting with a group of representatives from NATO member-states and European countries in order to assure them of the Senate's commitment to the Atlantic Alliance, the AP reported.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin said in an interview with the AP that President Donald Trump's name "never came up" during the consultations, but noted that all participants had taken him into consideration as one of the factors. He added that Trump's policy and statements towards NATO was one of the reasons for the meeting.
"Everyone knows he's the big actor in the room. And the purpose of this meeting was to overcome some of things he has said and done that raised questions about the future of NATO," Durbin said.
According to the news outlet, Republican Senator Richard Shelby said that the organizers of the event wanted to let participants know that the US Senate is "committed to NATO" and wants them to be as well.
Representatives of nine countries were present at the meeting, the AP reported. One of the attendees, Polish Ambassador to the US Piotr Wilczek, expressed gratitude for the Senate's support, but noted that its position might differ from that of the presidential administration. He expressed hope, in an interview with the news outlet, that the White House would join the upper house of the Congress in reassuring US allies of Washington's support.
Trump has criticized NATO on multiple occasions, blaming member-states for not contributing enough and not reaching the targeted spending of 2% of GDP, which is required by the alliance's agreements. After the recent NATO summit in Brussels, where Trump had reportedly threatened to abandon the alliance in the closed-door meeting, member-states announced that they would reach the target and negotiated deadlines for doing so.