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Trump bumps up Brazil to ‘major non-NATO’ ally

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, addresses his remarks at the Pentagon Thursday, January 17, 2019, announcing the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Review. (Tia Dufour/White House)

President Donald Trump said he will grant special military status to Brazil, making it a “major non-NATO ally” in a move to boost cooperation.

Trump informed Congress Wednesday of his intent to make the South American state the 18th country to receive the designation.

“I am making this designation in recognition of … Brazil’s recent commitments to increase defense cooperation with the United States, and in recognition of our own national interest in deepening our defense coordination with Brazil,” Trump said in a letter to Congress.

The designation takes effect 30 days after the presidential notification.

In March, Trump said he also was giving consideration to having Brazil become an actual member of NATO, an idea that raised questions since membership in the North Atlantic alliance is open only to European countries along with Canada and the United States.

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“I also intend to designate Brazil as a major non-NATO ally, or even possibly — if you start thinking about it — maybe a NATO ally. I have to talk to a lot of people, but maybe a NATO ally,” Trump told reporters during a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

For Brazil to become a NATO member, it would require a change in the alliance’s charter, but there has been no indication of allies moving in that direction. Still, Brazil’s status as a non-NATO ally will likely mean more cooperation between the two countrys’ armed forces.

The most recent country to be declared a major non-NATO ally is Tunisia, a North African nation that the U.S. military works closely with on counterterrorism efforts.

The first batch of countries to receive the designation were South Korea, Japan, Israel, Australia and Egypt, all named non-NATO allies in 1989.

Benefits include closer coordination on military missions, the ability to host U.S. war reserve stockpiles and expedited access to sensitive technology, according to Global Security, a hub for military information.

However, unlike actual NATO membership, being a major non-NATO ally does not include security guarantees like the trans-Atlantic pact’s Article 5 collective defense provision, which says an attack on one member is an attack on all.

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