BRUSSELS The head of NATO described ties between European members and the United States on Friday as “rock solid”, ahead of an alliance foreign ministers meeting that will discuss burden sharing.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg chairs talks of foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday that will look into ways of keeping Washington committed to the alliance, U.S. President Donald Trump once denounced as “obsolete”.
Stoltenberg said the ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, would discuss “fair burden sharing to keep the trans-atlantic bond strong” and “stepping up NATO efforts to project stability and fight terrorism”.
Under Trump, Washington has stepped up pressure on Europe to pay more for its own defense.
Trump’s arrival to the White House has galvanized NATO’s European allies, though Lithuania’s Linas Linkevicius said on arrival to the talks that there was “no doubt about commitment of the United States to NATO”.
Only four European NATO members – Estonia, Greece, Poland and Britain – met the alliance’s agreed requirement of spending two percent of their annual economic output on defense.
For Europe’s largest economy, Germany, Berlin’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said it was not even desireable: “Two percent would mean military expenses of some 70 billion euros. I don’t know any German politician who would claim that is reachable or desirable.”
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Robert-Jan Bartunek)