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7th Dec 2019

Nato chief defends alliance after Trump victory

  • Nato decided to deploy a Russia-deterrent force at a summit in Warsaw in July (Photo: nato.int)

Nato states had a “solemn” commitment to defend each other and the alliance was "important" for the US, Nato head Jens Stoltenberg has said in reaction to Donald Trump’s election as US president.

“Nato’s security guarantee is a treaty commitment. All allies have made a solemn commitment to defend each other. This is something which is unconditional and absolute”, he said in Brussels on Wednesday (9 November).

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  • Stoltenberg: "Nato’s security guarantee is a treaty commitment" (Photo: Nato)

“Nato’s security guarantees are important for Europe, but they are also important for the United States”, he said.

He recalled that the only time the alliance had invoked its Article 5 mutual defence clause was to help the US after 9/11 in 2001.

He noted that Nato soldiers from Europe and Canada continued to support US-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He also invoked the history of transatlantic ties, saying Nato had “brought together America's closest friends in times of peace and in times of conflict for almost 70 years”.

Trump, who swept to victory on Tuesday, said during his campaign that the US would only protect Nato allies who were prepared to pay more for their own defence.

He has also praised Russian leader Vladimir Putin, amid Nato plans to deploy a Russia-deterrent force, with a large US component, in the Baltic and Black Sea regions next year.

When asked in Wednesday’s press briefing if Trump’s win would change that plan, Stoltenberg said “we have made important decisions, we are implementing those decisions”.

He also said there was agreement in Nato that it had to challenge “hybrid threats”, a term commonly used for Russia’s mix of covert military, economic, and information warfare.

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, said he “looked forward” to meeting Trump “soon”.

He has, in the past, also complained that Nato states were not living up to promises to increase military budgets.

Stoltenberg spoke in Brussels after meeting Bosnian president Bakir Izetbegovic.

With Bosnia aspiring to join the alliance, Stoltenberg said Nato membership meant “greater security and greater prosperity”.

“Nato is and remains committed to stability in the Western Balkans”, he said.

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