US ensures commitment to NATO: Secretary-general
Sevil Erkuş - BRUSSELS
REUTERS photoThe United States has a strong commitment to NATO not only in words but in deeds, alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on March 30 amid unease among European officials after U.S. President Donald Trump described NATO as “obsolete” during his election campaign.
“They are strongly committed to NATO because they see NATO as important for Europe, but they also see NATO as important for the U.S. The two world wars and a cold war have told us all that stability is important for Europe but also important for the U.S.,” he said in a press conference.
The secretary-general recalled that the only time the alliance invoked Article 5, which obligates all members to come to the defense of another member if it is attacked, was for the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the country.
“Hundreds of European soldiers served in Afghanistan [afterwards],” Stoltenberg added.
Referring to phone calls with officials from the U.S. administration, the secretary-general said they expressed commitment to the alliance, adding that he would meet Trump on April 12.
The secretary-general’s remarks came ahead of a ministerial NATO meeting in Brussels on March 31, which was supposed to take place on April 5-6. However, when it became clear that the new U.S. secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, would skip the meeting, NATO scrambled to set another date.
Tillerson said he was unable to attend the original NATO ministerial meeting, which will be his first formal NATO ministerial, because he planned to participate in a summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.
Trump says he strongly supports the alliance, but in interviews and speeches, he continues to air grievances over what he claims is Europe’s failure to pay its fair share for protecting the West.