Donald Trump Jens Stoltenberg handshake at White House

Trump Praised By NATO Chief For 'Strong Leadership' On Alliance Spending

US President Donald Trump reiterated calls for member countries of the alliance to increase their defence spending.

Donald Trump Jens Stoltenberg handshake at White House

Jens Stoltenberg praised Donald Trump during his visit to the US (Picture: NATO).

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has thanked President Donald Trump for his "strong leadership" in calling for member countries of the alliance to increase defence spending.

Mr Stoltenberg, whose term as Secretary-General has been extended, was speaking at the White House on a visit to mark the 70th anniversary of NATO.

It is a significant week for NATO as it marks its 70th anniversary - for which its Secretary-General is in Washington.

Mr Trump has continually pushed for the rest of the alliance to ramp up its defence spending, something Mr Stoltenberg praised him for.

"Thank you so much for your strong support and for your commitment to NATO and for your leadership, especially on burden sharing," Mr Stoltenberg said.

"NATO is a strong alliance, but to remain a strong alliance, we have to be a fair alliance.

"Therefore, Allies have to invest more in defence.

"You have a very clear message on that, and your message is having a clear impact.

NATO HQ with flags
NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium.

President Trump said both the Secretary General and himself are committed to NATO, and but also repeated his stance that the "alliance cannot rely on one nation to defend all".

Last month, NATO released its estimates on which countries pay their share of GDP on defence, with the US paying the largest percentage.

"If you look at it, the disproportionality of what the United States is doing is really too great, but we’re working on that," said the President.

The alliance will likely face challenges ahead - in particular, uncertainty over Russia and its intentions towards Ukraine - and plans to counter any large scale crises are already in operation.

Britain's leading contribution to NATO - the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in Gloucester - is preparing for an enhanced role at the end of the year which will see them being able to command up to 120,000 troops, something not planned for on this scale since the Cold War.

NATO's Allied Rapid Reaction Corps HQ in Gloucestershire.

Meanwhile the MOD says almost two thousand British Armed Forces personnel will be deployed to the Baltic Sea for a series of multinational exercises to bolster European security.

UK sailors and marines would be joined by 1,000 others from UK-led high-readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) nations for the 'Baltic Protector' deployment from May to July.

British personnel have been on exercise in Norway this year (Picture: Royal Navy).

They are expected to test themselves with maritime tactical exercises, amphibious drills, shore landings and naval manoeuvres.

Around 20 naval vessels - including Royal Navy ships - will be involved in the deployment.

Personnel from the British Army and Royal Air Force will also take part.

Defence ministers and representatives from the JEF countries will meet at the MOD this week to discuss the deployment and test the mechanisms for mobilising the force.

HMS Ocean during BALTOPS 2015 in Baltic Sea
HMS Ocean during BATLOPS 2015 in the Baltic Sea (Picture: Crown Copyright).

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

"As Britain prepares to leave the EU, our unwavering commitment to European security and stability is more important than ever.

"Deploying our world-class sailors and marines to the Baltic Sea, alongside our international allies, firmly underlines Britain's leading role in Europe."