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Nato members to spend extra $266b on defence

Despite differences, Nato members will deliver, Stoltenberg says

Image Credit: Reuters
Nato leaders gesture as they observe a helicopter fly-past at the start of the Nato summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Gulf News

Brussels: Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance members would deliver on fairer burden-sharing, explaining that European allies and Canada are expected to spend an extra $266 billion (Dh976 billion) on defence between today and 2024.

“The summit today and tomorrow is of particular importance because we are faced with unprecedented security challenges and threats, and at the same time we see differences, disagreements between allies,” he said on Wednesday in remarks ahead of the 29th summit of the transatlantic alliance.

“So it is very important that this summit shows that Nato delivers, that we are able to do more together, all 29 allies, North-America and Europe. I am confident that despite discussions, disagreements, we will decide and we will deliver. We will deliver on how to strengthen our collective defence with high readiness of our troops. We will deliver on stepping up the efforts to fight terrorism with a new training mission in Iraq and more support for the Afghan security forces.”

Nato will also deliver when it comes to making sure that the alliance is always fit for purpose by modernising its Command Structure, establishing new two commands, one in Norfolk, Virginia, and one in Ulm, in Germany, he added.

“But perhaps most important, we will also deliver when it comes to burden-sharing, defence spending. Because after decades where allies were cutting defence budgets by hundreds of billions of dollars and euros we are seeing now that they are adding billions of euros to their defence budgets.”

US President Donald Trump has been lashing at the alliance for not spending enough on defence despite a pledge the members took in 2014 to devote at least 2 per cent of their GDP on defence.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump fired off criticisms of the alliance, complaining again that it is not paying enough for defence.

However, Stoltenberg insisted that the member countries were moving ahead with their pledge to increase their defence pending.

“We see that last year we had the biggest increase in our defence spending across Europe and Canada, in a generation, and based on the national plans we have agreed to develop last year, we estimate that European allies and Canada will add $266 billion to the defence budgets from now until 2024,” he said.

“A strong Nato is important for Europe, but is also important for the United States and therefore it is important that we show that this summit, despite differences on different issues is able to agree and deliver on strengthening Nato as a corner stone of transatlantic unity.”

At a breakfast meeting with Trump, Stoltenberg said that a strong Nato is good for Europe and for the US.

“The US military presence in Europe helps to protect Europe, but it also helps the United States to project power to the Middle East, to Africa and I think also that the clout, the military clout of Europe, the economic clout, the political clout is also helpful in dealing with Russia.”

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