WASHINGTON — Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg delivered remarks Friday on the importance of the alliance to the U.S. especially as it makes efforts to increase defense spending under guidance from President Donald Trump.
“As you know, President Trump has been outspoken on this issue,” Stoltenberg said in his address at The Heritage Foundation. “And I have thanked him for his leadership on defense spending.”
Trump has called on NATO partners repeatedly in recent months, but Germany specifically for “free-riding” on the U.S. He has also urged Germany to increase their commitment to NATO, especially because they have the largest economy in Europe.
Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting – NATO. The U.S. is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the U.S. taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Stoltenberg added that he agrees with Trump that several countries could be doing more.
A NATO spending report for 2017 showed the U.S. continued to spend more on defense than every other country, which is the source of Trump’s criticism.
The former prime minister of Norway acknowledged Trump’s frustration and assured the U.S. that Germany similarly understands they to be spending more and advancing their technologies.
“Germany agrees and they’re starting to invest more in defense,” Stoltenberg said.
Another area NATO could benefit from, per Stoltenberg, is increased defense spending from the European Union (EU).
He “welcomes” an effort by the EU to similarly update and improve their defense capabilities, which he says could alleviate “burden-sharing” on NATO. (RELATED: Former UK Defense Secretary Says Trump Is Right On NATO Criticism)
The NATO chief also gave his three main reasons why the NATO alliance is so important to the U.S.
First, that peace and stability in Europe are of vital importance to America.
Further, NATO allies share and support values that are at the heart of American society.
Third, NATO’s allies boost America’s military power, a point at the heart of his address.
On his trip in Washington, D.C., Stoltenberg met with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, national security adviser John Bolton and members of the House of Representatives.
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