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Nato reiterates ‘absolute confidence’ in Trump security commitment

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands after a joint news conference at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels January 12, 2017. ― Reuters pic
New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shake hands after a joint news conference at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels January 12, 2017. ― Reuters pic

BRUSSELS, Jan 16 ― Nato today reiterated its full confidence in the US security commitment to Europe, despite US President-elect Donald Trump sparking fresh uproar by saying the alliance was obsolete.

Trump also cast doubt on the European Union’s future after Britain’s departure and said he was ready to ease sanctions against Russia over its role in the Ukraine crisis, adding to concerns over his intentions just days before his inauguration.

In a statement, Nato spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg was looking forward to working with Trump and his team.

“He is absolutely confident that the incoming US administration will remain committed to Nato,” Lungescu said.

She said the two men had already discussed defence and increased spending, a key issue for many years in Washington which has pushed the allies to share more of the burden.

On the campaign trail, Trump had even suggested Washington might not help an ally under threat if it had not paid its dues.

“A strong Nato is good for the United States, just as it is for Europe,” Lungescu said.

Stung by Russia’s Ukraine intervention and its annexation of Crimea, the Nato allies embarked on the biggest military build-up since the end of the Cold War.

Trump’s position appears to undercut that hard-won commitment while he has also wrongfooted the European Union, which has just extended economic sanctions against Russia.

Those sanctions were agreed in 2014 only reluctantly, with some EU member states regretting the economic damage they did to both sides.

Nato had earlier today referred journalists to remarks made by Stoltenberg on December 6 at an alliance foreign ministers meeting when asked repeatedly about Trump’s intentions.

On that occasion, Stoltenberg recalled that the only time Nato’s article 5 collective defence provision had been invoked was after the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States. ― AFP

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