DN - Defence Notes

France pours cold water on Trump's NATO Brazil musings

21st March 2019 - 10:15 GMT | by ​Agence France-Presse in Paris

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On 20 March 2019 France appeared to nix US President Donald Trump's suggestion that Brazil could become a NATO member while opening the door to making the South American country one of the alliance's ‘global partners.’

In a statement, the foreign ministry noted that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's charters define a ‘specific geographical scope of application.’ Article 10, for example, specifies that any ‘European state’ can apply for membership in the collective defence alliance, which requires members to come to the aid of any other in case of attack.

Trump raised eyebrows on 19 March when he suggested Brazil could become a NATO member after meeting the country's populist President Jair Bolsonaro in Washington. ‘I... intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally or even possibly, if you start thinking about it, maybe a NATO ally,’ Trump said, before admitting that he would ‘have to talk to a lot of people.’

Any change of the NATO charter to allow non-European members would require the approval of all 29 current member states. At the same time, Brazil could become a NATO ‘global partner’, which means their forces can take part in alliance missions and operations, though currently there are no discussions underway on this.

‘NATO can establish a dialogue and concrete cooperation with partners, as it has already done with nearly 40 non-member nations and international organisations, including in Latin America,’ the French foreign ministry said.

Last year, Colombia became the first NATO global partner in Latin America.

Trump has been unstinting in his criticism of NATO's European members, accusing them of freeloading on the protection offered by the US military while not spending enough on their own armed forces.

Before taking office Trump called NATO ‘obsolete’ and soon after a NATO summit last July summit he questioned whether the US would honour the alliance's founding principle of mutual defence for newest member Montenegro.

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