13:38 GMT +317 November 2019
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    U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to hold a news conference after participating in the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 12, 2018

    NATO Hits Back at Trump: Article 5 Was Invoked Once, to Support US

    © REUTERS / Reinhard Krause
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    The North Atlantic Alliance has issued a response to President Trump following his comments about Montenegrins being "very strong" and "very aggressive people" who could pull the military bloc into a major war.

    A NATO official challenged the president's apparent faltering resolve on the alliance's collective defense obligations, saying that Trump made his views on the matter clear during last week's NATO summit in Brussels.

    "NATO's collective defense clause, Article 5, is unconditional and iron-clad. It means that an attack on one is an attack on all," an official, asking to remain anonymous, told AFP. "President Trump has made clear that the US is fully committed to NATO and our alliance is strong."

    "Article 5 has only been invoked once, in support of the US after the 9/11 attacks. This led to NATO's largest-ever operation, in Afghanistan, where hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Europe, including Montenegro, as well as Canadians, stood shoulder to shoulder with US troops and more than a thousand paid the ultimate price," the official added.

    Montenegro announced plans to increase the number of troops it had in Afghanistan from 18 to 26-28 earlier this year. The country joined the NATO alliance in 2017. The country's entry into the alliance was met with mass protests, and approved by the government without a referendum despite a majority of Montenegrins opposed to membership. Part of this opposition stems from the fact that Montenegro was attacked during the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, when it was a Yugoslav republic.

    Speaking to Fox News' host Tucker Carlson this week following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump said that he's given considerable thought to why American military personnel should go to Montenegro in the event of a war in the Balkan country. "Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people…By the way, they're very strong people. They're very aggressive people. They may get aggressive and congratulations, you're in World War III," he said.

    Trump's Montenegro remarks prompted Montenegrin politicians to call Trump's words "stupid," and to charge him with being the "strangest president in the history of the United States." Podgorica issued a formal response Thursday, saying it "contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, along with US soldiers in Afghanistan."


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