NATO Says Europe Should Follow The UK's Lead On Defence
European countries must follow Britain's lead and spend more on defence to ease relations with the United States, NATO's Secretary General has told Theresa May.
 
Jens Stoltenberg has called on countries to hand over more cash to secure the "transatlantic bond", in the wake of concerns over the US commitment to the alliance since Donald Trump's election,
 
The Prime Minister, who backs calls for European nations to spend more, insisted the UK will remain a "cornerstone" of NATO.
 
Mr Trump caused alarm during the presidential election campaign when he described the alliance as ''obsolete'' and suggested that the US would not come to the aid of a nation which did not meet the spending target.
 
Since his election, he has said he will honour American commitments to defend Nato members, according to Mr Stoltenberg.
 
The NATO secretary general, having warned that a split between the US and Europe would have dire consequences, said he is now assured about Mr Trump's commitment to the organisation after speaking to him last week. He told the BBC Radio Four's Today programme: 
"He has also clearly stated to me, and also to other European leaders after he was elected, that he will be, and the United States will remain, strongly committed to NATO, and the security guarantees to Europe, they stand".
Mr Stoltenberg said he agreed with the president-elect that some NATO members needed to pay more for defence.
 
"I would say that he has a fair point. It is not fair that the burden-sharing in NATO is as imbalanced as it is today."
 
Britain is one of just four European members to hit the target, along with Poland, Estonia and Greece.
 
During talks at No 10, Mr Stoltenberg hailed Britain for spending more than 2% of GDP on defence.
"By doing so you lead by example. It's good to see that other allies are now following you and they are starting to increase defence spending."
- Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General
Mrs May said NATO needs to focus on recognising "new threats as they emerge"; in particular cyber capabilities.
"I think as we look in the face of Russian aggression, of course here in the UK we are committed to our 2% of GDP being spent on defence, we are contributing troops to defence of eastern Europe with the NATO operations and our commitment is significant in all of these issues and we've agreed to maintain our nuclear deterrent."
- Theresa May MP, UK Prime Minister 
President-elect Donald Trump also promised to strengthen US relations with Russia when he enters the White House. 
 
His praise of Vladimir Putin, along with his half-heartedness towards NATO, has many European member nations concerned about the future of the alliance. 
"Britain is stepping up to deal with the threats we face. The Army and RAF are providing assurance to NATO allies; with troops going to Estonia and Poland and jets being deployed to the Black Sea. Our Royal Navy is taking on people traffickers and training new Libyan forces in the Mediterranean. The UK is ahead of the NATO spending target and we’re ensuring the Royal Navy is growing with cutting-edge new aircraft carriers, frigates and submarines launching over the next few years."
- Michael Fallon MP, UK Defence Secretary
 
 

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