Spotlight: NATO leaders agree to step up burden sharing under Trump pressure

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-26 19:05:38|Editor: ying
Video PlayerClose

BRUSSELS, May 26 (Xinhua) -- NATO leaders have agreed to step up NATO's role in the fight against terrorism and fairer burden sharing under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump.

The details were outlined after a one-day summit in Brussels which included Trump and leaders from the western alliance.

Speaking at a news conference after the summit on Thursday night, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said "The decisions we have taken today are the best tools to make sure that NATO continues to deliver."

On defense spending and President Trump's repeated demand for European allies to "pay their fair share," Stoltenberg said "Trump was blunt on that message today. But we have seen and heard this kind of plain speaking from him before."

But he added that "we are all aware of the importance of this and we are now moving in the right direction."

Trump on Thursday used the occasion of his maiden summit with NATO leaders to, once again, remind his fellow NATO alliance leaders of being not "fair" to U.S. taxpayers.

On U.S. commitment to NATO, Stoltenberg said "Trump inaugurated a 9/11 Article 5 memorial today, which is the strongest expression of U.S. support for NATO. Just by doing he sent a strong signal."

The summit, he said, had taken steps "to keep up the momentum" (on increasing defense spending) and to "continue to match words with action."

It had, he said, also been agreed to adopt an "action plan" designed to enhance NATO's contributions while alliance leaders also decided to increase support to the U.S.-led Global Coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS).

Stoltenberg said, "This will send a strong political message of NATO's commitment to the fight against terrorism and improve coordination within the coalition."

However, he stressed, "It does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations."

The fight against terrorism, one of the main issues discussed, requires a "wide range of instruments" but the action plan showed NATO was ready to "step up its efforts."

He said NATO would also become a "full member" of the anti-IS coalition.

On Russia, Stoltenberg said, "Our relationship with Russia was also discussed and we stressed the importance of meaningful dialogue."

Trump has previously supported Britain's shock Brexit vote, claimed the EU was a doomed would-be superstate and dubbed NATO "obsolete."

Even so, hopes had been relatively high that the visit, Trump's first overseas trip as U.S. President, could help heal EU-U.S. relations and ongoing rows about European defense spending.

But the severe ticking off he gave alliance members risks souring relations even more. In a sign of growing frustration felt by EU leaders, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani, speaking after meeting Trump in Brussels, defended European defense spending saying "Europe is taking on greater responsibility on defense."

Belgian Greens MEP Philippe Lamberts commented, "Trump's demands on the NATO countries for military rearmament is no answer to the threats and instability we face."

However, British Conservative Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Tannock said "Hopefully both sides took the chance to set aside the rhetoric, sound each other out and lay the foundations of a strong political and security relationship. It is much easier to reach an understanding when you are in the same room, not hailing each other across the Atlantic."