Leaders of the NATO allies will gather in London for the alliance’s 70th anniversary summit in December, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced Wednesday.
As head of the United States government, Donald Trump will be invited, Downing Street told CNN immediately after the announcement. The UK Prime Minister’s office said it had no confirmation about whether he would attend.
NATO headquarters in Brussels said it was “highly likely” Trump would attend the heads of state and government meeting. A spokesperson there said no date or venue had been set. The White House has yet to confirm if the President will attend.
The US President was highly critical of the bloc at its annual summit in Brussels in July and has repeatedly called on NATO allies to spend more on defense.
On that trip, the US President largely avoided direct encounters with protesters, meeting Prime Minister Theresa May at her country retreat outside the UK capital, and Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle before heading to his Turnberry golf resort in Scotland.
“The United Kingdom was one of the Alliance’s twelve founding members and continues to play a key role in the Alliance, making essential contributions to our shared security,” NATO said in a statement confirming that London – the home of the alliance’s first headquarters – would host the December summit.
“The meeting in London will be an opportunity for Allied Heads of State and Government to address the security challenges we face now and in the future, and to ensure that NATO continues to adapt in order to keep its population of almost one billion people safe.”
Trump vaunted his calls for increased spending by NATO allies in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night.
“We are also getting other nations to pay their fair share,” he said. “Finally. For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by friends of ours – members of NATO. But now we have secured, over the last couple of years, more than $100 billion of increase in defense spending from our NATO allies. They said it couldn’t be done.”
While NATO allies have stepped up their defense spending under Trump’s watch, the US push for NATO countries to spend more on national security began under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
Spending has risen in recent years, but many countries in the decades-old alliance are still failing to meet the expectation that they spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense. All members made a commitment in 2014 to try to reach that threshold by 2024.
CNN’s James Frater, Marshall Cohen and Nicole Gaouette contributed to this report.