Trump’s message is having an impact on NATO, secretary general says
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC that President Donald Trump‘s rhetoric on defense spending is having an “important” impact on the military alliance.
“I’m saying that his message has been very clear and that his message is having an impact on defense spending. And this is important because we need fairer burden sharing in the NATO alliance,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
“We see more nations spending 2 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) on defense which is the NATO guideline and we see that all nations have stopped the cuts we saw for many years to their defense budgets. And all nations have started to increase,” he added.
Contributions to NATO are a highly sensitive topic. Trump has often criticized other NATO members for not respecting the spending rule. Speaking at a NATO summit in 2017, Trump said: “Over the last eight years, the United States spent more on defense than all NATO countries combined. If all NATO members had spent just 2 percent of GDP on defense last year, we would have had another $119 billion for our collective defense.”
Members are obliged to spend the equivalent of 2 percent of their own gross domestic product (GDP) on NATO. These payments are used “to meet the needs of its armed forces, those of allies or of the alliance,” to pay pensions to retired military, to contribute to NATO-managed trust funds as well as research and development.
Yves HermanNATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg talks to the media as he arrives at an European Union leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2018.
American and Taliban negotiators are attempting to build a peace framework to allow U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan. Trump said in his State of the Union address last week “after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”
Stoltenberg said Saturday that any U.S. troop withdrawal would be coordinated with NATO.
“We went into Afghanistan together and we will make decisions on the future presence there together. And we will, when the time is right, make the decision on withdrawal together,” he said.
The NATO chief said his troops are in Afghanistan as a direct consequence of the 9/11 attack on the U.S. which underlined “the importance of NATO for the United States.”
—CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this article.
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