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Trump says U.S. is committed to NATO defense, knocks Russia over Ukraine

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a joint news conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, in Warsaw, Poland July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WARSAW (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States had demonstrated its commitment to NATO’s defense through words and actions, and called on Russia to end its “destabilizing” action in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

Trump’s reference to Article Five of the NATO treaty, which guarantees that alliance members will defend each other, represented a change of tone from the president, who upset U.S. allies by not mentioning support for the provision during a trip to NATO headquarters in May.

His criticism of Russia comes ahead of his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Germany on Friday.

“We urge Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran, and to instead join the community of responsible nations in our fight against common enemies and the defense of civilization itself,” Trump said in a speech in Warsaw.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Marcin Goettig and Jeff Mason; Editing by Kevin Liffey