BRUSSELS – The secretary-general of NATO on Wednesday insisted that member nations could overcome their differences and agree on the core principles that the trans-Atlantic Alliance was stronger together than apart.
Jens Stoltenberg spoke with reporters following a meeting with United States President Donald Trump at the beginning of a NATO summit in Brussels that the White House leader kicked off with an antagonistic attack on a planned natural gas pipeline deal between Germany and Russia.
“I expect open and frank discussions, and there are disagreements on different issues, some of them not directly related to NATO like trade or climate change, but also some of them related to NATO, for instance, defense spending,” the Norwegian politician said.
Trump railed against Germany’s multi-billion dollar Nord Stream II energy deal with Russia, saying it brought Berlin under Moscow’s sway and was a waste of money that could otherwise have been used by Germany to boost its defense contribution, a sore point for the US president who feels his country is picking up the slack in that regard.
“But despite those disagreements, I expect that we will agree on the fundamentals that we are stronger together than apart, that NATO has to be strong to protect all allies, and that we will deliver on strengthening our collective defense,” the NATO chief added, contradicting the less optimistic image spouted by Trump.
Defense spending contributions are expected to occupy much of the agenda at the NATO summit.