NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, summarised NATO’s meeting with the US President, Donald Trump, in which Russia, terror, and burden-sharing were the main themes , as good and important.
‘Trump is extremely concerned about the burden distribution in NATO, and that is understandable. The United States has defense spending that is more than twice as large as that of Europe, despite the fact that national product is about the same’, said Stoltenberg to NTB after a meeting at the White House.
‘During the meeting, I can say there was positive progress in this area, and that will be appreciated in Washington, and by Trump and his team. They also see that there is a long way to go’.
Tense relations with Russia
The US President made it clear that relations between Russia and the United States are now at their nadir. Stoltenberg said that this reflects that ‘we live in a more unpredictable and dangerous world,’ but says one must not over-dramatise and talk up the danger.
‘The best way to avoid that is to be fixed, predictable and unified in NATO, but constantly seek to improve relations with Russia. I very often use my experiences from Norwegian politics, where, also during the Cold War, Norway were able to have good relations with Russia’, said the former Norwegian prime minister.
NTB reported that Stoltenberg elaborated that the relationship between NATO and Russia are probably at their most tense since the Cold War, especially after the annexation of Crimea, and Russia’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
‘For me, this is just another argument that we need to continue a policy where we are unified and strong, but where we still seek dialogue with Russia. We must avoid a new cold war, and we must continue to work to bring the voltage down’, said Stoltenberg.
On meeting President Trump face to face for the first time, the NATO Secretary General said that it was a ‘regular’ meeting with an American president.
‘I have met several American presidents, and each one is different in their own way. The first time I came here as prime minister, I met Bill Clinton, and everyone has their particular characteristics’, said Stoltenberg, who did not elaborate further on how otherwise he experienced Trump as president.
He said that the meetings with the presidents in their basics are the same, because the parties always agreed that it is in everyone’s interest that North America and Europe stand together.
Stoltenberg shakes his head, laughing about questions regarding his handshake with Trump, who several times has been hurt in meetings with other heads of state.
‘I can’t understand it becoming such a big issue. I have pressed many hands in my life, and I experienced this much as any other handshake.’
Source: NTB scanpix / Norway Today