Nato has had serious differences before, alliance chief says after Trump remarks
Jens Stoltenberg made the comments after the American president embarked on a Twitter tirade following the G7 summit.
Nato members have seen “serious differences before”, the secretary general of the alliance has said after Donald Trump appeared to lash out at allies.
Following the G7 summit in Canada, which Prime Minister Theresa May admitted had been “difficult”, the American president tweeted to state that the US “pays close to the entire cost of Nato”.
Speaking to the Press Association, Jens Stoltenberg appeared to dismiss concerns that Mr Trump has left the 29-member alliance in crisis after his scathing social media rant.
....Germany pays 1% (slowly) of GDP towards NATO, while we pay 4% of a MUCH larger GDP. Does anybody believe that makes sense? We protect Europe (which is good) at great financial loss, and then get unfairly clobbered on Trade. Change is coming!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
“There are differences among nations on important issues, such as trade, the Iran deal, or climate change – these differences are real,” he said.
“But we have seen serious differences before, dating back to the Suez crisis in 1956, or the Iraq War in 2003.
“Despite our differences, Nato has proven again and again that we unite around our core task, we defend each other.
“And we continue to deliver – strengthening of our collective deterrence and defence, stepping up in the fight against terrorism and working together addressing other threats such as cyber.
“In Nato, allies have always been able to agree on the fundamentals – standing together and protecting one another.
“This has helped keep our people safe for almost 70 years.”
During his Twitter tirade, Mr Trump claimed that America protects many of the countries that “rip off” the US on trade, and highlighted that Germany spends 1% of GDP on defence while America hits 4%.
....And add to that the fact that the U.S. pays close to the entire cost of NATO-protecting many of these same countries that rip us off on Trade (they pay only a fraction of the cost-and laugh!). The European Union had a $151 Billion Surplus-should pay much more for Military!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 11, 2018
Mr Trump said the US protects Europe at “great financial loss” and then gets “unfairly clobbered on trade”, warning that “change is coming”.
Britain currently only just meets the Nato target – with a total spend of GDP on defence topping 2.1% – but critics have claimed this figure is inflated by items such as pensions.
Asked whether he foresees President Trump pulling out of Nato, Mr Stoltenberg said the commitment of the US to the alliance “remains iron-clad with both words and in deeds”.
“US forces in the eastern part of our alliance are enhancing our deterrence and defence,” he said.
For the 4th consecutive year there is a real increase in defence spending across #NATO European Allies and Canada. The first figures for 2018 show that defence spending is up by 3.8%. pic.twitter.com/Weh6TIOCOU— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) June 7, 2018
“The United States is investing billions of dollars in its military presence in Europe, including a further increase in funding for the European Deterrence Initiative.
“The amount of funding for these forces has increased by 40% during the Trump administration, and the US will host our new command for the Atlantic – to help protect the sea lines of communication between Europe and North America.
“This is a clear demonstration of US determination to stand with her European allies.
“Nato is founded on the bond between Europe and North America.
“In good times and bad, that bond has been unbreakable. We stand together and defend each other. A strong Nato is good for Europe and good for North America.”
The next Nato summit will take place on July 11-12 in Brussels, where issues including defence, deterrence, the fight against terrorism, the readiness of forces, and modernising the alliance are expected to be addressed.