Leaders sought to make a show of unity as they met to conclude their annual summit in London. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he is confident the member differences over defence plans will be resolved.
NATO SecretaryGeneral Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday rejected French criticism that the military alliance is suffering from “brain death,” and insisted that the organisation is adapting to modern challenges.
“NATO is agile, NATO is active, NATO is adapting,” Stoltenberg said before chairing a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his alliance counterparts at a luxury hotel and golf resort outside London.
Stoltenberg also said that European allies and Canada have added $130 billion to their defence spending since 2016, even as Trump has complains that they are too slow to boost their military budgets.
“This is unprecedented, this is making us stronger,” Stoltenberg said of the spending effort.
After Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014, NATO countries halted their post-Cold War spending cuts and began increasing spending. They pledged to “move toward” spending 2 percent of their annual GDP on national defence by 2024.
Trump said Tuesday that much more needs to be done.
“You could make the case that they’ve been delinquent for 25-30 years,” Trump said. The figure of 2 percent, he added, “is a very low number, it really should be 4.”
TRT World's Simon McGregor-Wood has more from London.
NATO unity on the line
NATO leaders sought to make a show of unity on Wednesday as they met to conclude their annual summit, but the alliance's chief admitted differences with Turkey were still unresolved.
What should have been a celebration of NATO's 70th birthday has been overshadowed by bitter rows about money and the future strategy of the alliance.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not agree to a NATO defence proposal for Poland and the Baltic nations until the alliance supports Ankara's concerns related to the YPG terror group.
Erdogan said he would discuss the issue with the leaders of Poland and the Baltics during the NATO gathering.
Stoltenberg said he is confident the differences over defence plans will be resolved.
"I'm confident that we will be able to find a solution to the issue related to the updating the revised defence plans," he said as he arrived for the summit at a luxury golf hotel in Watford, on the outskirts of London.
"I discussed this with President Erdogan last night and we are working on the issue as we speak."
The summit host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, played down the dispute.
"There is far, far more that unites us than divides us, and I think one thing every leader here is absolutely resolved upon is the vital importance of NATO for our collective security," he said as he arrived.
The leaders are due to publish a declaration underlining their commitment to NATO on its 70th birthday, and to show that the alliance is adapting to modern threats and potential new adversaries like China.
Trump and President Emmanuel Macron clashed Tuesday over the French leader’s criticism of NATO. Macron says NATO needs “a wake-up call” and he has complained of a lack of US leadership.
The United States is by far the biggest and most influential member of NATO. Its military spending dwarfs that of all the other allies combined.