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Trump, NATO chief discuss greater alliance Mideast role

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference following the NATO ambassadors' meeting on the situation in the Middle East after the killing of Iranian top commander Qasem Soleimani in the US airstrike at NATO headquarter​ in Brussels, Belgium on 6 January 2020. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference following the NATO ambassadors' meeting on the situation in the Middle East after the killing of Iranian top commander Qasem Soleimani in the US airstrike at NATO headquarter​ in Brussels, Belgium on 6 January 2020. [Dursun Aydemir - Anadolu Agency]

US President Donald Trump emphasized Wednesday the importance of NATO increasing its Middle East footprint during a telephone call with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to the White House, Anadolu reports.

During their conversation, Trump and Stoltenberg addressed the situation in the Middle East after Iran launched more than a dozen rockets at Iraqi facilities housing US and coalition forces.

“The President emphasized the value of NATO increasing its role in preventing conflict and preserving peace in the Middle East,” White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement.

A separate readout of the call, NATO said Stoltenberg and Trump “agreed that NATO could contribute more to regional stability and the fight against international terrorism.”

It did not specify whether NATO would act.

READ: US-Iran distrust looms over Tehran air crash investigation 

Trump telegraphed the appeal during remarks earlier Wednesday in nationally televised remarks in which he said the Iranian strikes had caused no US casualties, and Iran appears to be “standing down,” which he said “is a good thing for all parties concerned, and a very good thing for the world.”

Iran’s ballistic missile attacks were in retaliation for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, its top general who was killed in Baghdad last week in a US airstrike.

Soleimani’s killing raised regional tensions with concerns that Washington and Tehran were on the precipice of war. But Trump appeared to tamp down those concerns with his Wednesday remarks.

In addition to Stoltenberg, Trump also spoke to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about the situation in the Middle East, according to the White House.

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