NATO chief hails German defence spending boost

Clay Curtis
June 10, 2018

"The decisions we have taken today pave the way for a successful summit in July, with more investment, more equitable burden-sharing, and a strengthened defense posture", Stoltenberg said.

NATO does not intend to isolate Russian Federation, but to apply a double approach - deterrence against aggression and political dialogue, as Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said, the press office of the Alliance reports.

European countries are at loggerheads with Washington over punishing new United States tariffs on steel and aluminium as well as President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord.

"NATO will never turn off dialogue with Russia", Mattis said on Wednesday.

NATO's brand new Brussels HQ is to host a meeting of Defence Ministers for the first time on 7th June.

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The NATO chief also confirmed that ministers are due to approve the establishment of new command centres in the German city of Ulm and in Norfolk in the United States.

"This is not about setting up or deploying new forces - it is about boosting the readiness of existing forces across each and every ally", Stoltenberg said. "There are differences related to issues like trade, the Iran nuclear deal and climate change", he said.

The tariffs issue is a delicate one for Mattis, who has placed great emphasis on nurturing and strengthening relations with allies, particularly in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, where he has pushed member countries to spend more on their own defense and to help combat Islamic extremists. But Trump's envoy to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, told reporters that the spending issue will remain a sore point for the president. "And I think it's still premature to call it a trade war". Spending by European governments, Turkey and Canada is expected to rise by 3.82 percent in 2018, which would be the fourth straight year of increases and would mean an $87.3 billion cumulative increase since 2015.

Germany lags in defense spending and is likely to face more criticism from Trump next month.

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