- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Dealing with an American president who has made repeated demands for U.S. allies to spend more on defense, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned that burden-sharing among allies “not just about cash, it’s about capabilities and contributions.”

Speaking at the NATO Engages event in Washington, Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, “We have to be able to both focus and put emphasis on the financial contributions, but at the same time not forget about the other aspects and the other contributions of the NATO alliance.”

President Trump has persistently called out NATO allies, including Germany and France, to increase their contributions to the alliance.

As NATO commemorates its 70th anniversary this week, Mr. Stoltenberg announced that European allies and Canada are adding $100 billion to their defense budgets and investing in missile defense, drones and modern fighter aircraft.

In 2016, only four of the 28 NATO countries were paying at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, a level that all members are supposed to meet by 2024. NATO officials estimated that seven countries — the U.S., the United Kingdom, Poland, Greece, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — met that threshold in 2018.

The U.S. leads the alliance by spending an estimated 3.39 percent of GDP on defense. Mr. Trump has often called on members such as Germany, which spends 1.23 percent, to shoulder more of the burden.

“I think it’s absolutely understandable the U.S. is focused on finances, on budget, on spending and the good news is that European allies have started to spend more,” Mr. Stoltenberg said.

The U.S. has a significant presence across Europe with troops stationed for peacekeeping, development and defense. But the secretary highlighted that the presence is not just to protect Europe, “but it’s in part to project power for the United States beyond Europe.”

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