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Trump, NATO chief pledge alliance’s ‘enduring importance’ in phone call

world Updated: Nov 19, 2016 00:26 IST

US Presidential-elect Donald Trump spoke to NATO Secretary-General over the phone on Friday.(Reuters)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg agreed on Friday on the Western alliance’s “enduring importance”, NATO said, striving to reassure Europe that Washington will remain committed to its security.

Trump questioned during his election campaign whether the United States should protect allies seen as spending too little on their defence, raising fears that he could withdraw funding for NATO at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.

“The president-elect and the secretary general both underlined NATO’s enduring importance and discussed how NATO is adapting to the new security environment, including to counter the threat of terrorism,” NATO said in a statement after a phone conversation between Trump and Stoltenberg.

There was no immediate comment from Trump’s side.

The NATO statement said the Republican Trump, who will succeed Democratic President Barack Obama on Jan. 20, is expected in Brussels for a NATO summit next year.

The two leaders also addressed defence spending and agreed that “progress has been made on fairer burden-sharing, but that there is more to do” - underlining the fact that the United States spends far more on defence than Europe does.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union a quarter of a century ago, NATO’s European members cut defence spending to historic lows, leaving the United States to make up around three quarters of the alliance’s military expenditure.

A more assertive Russia under President Vladimir Putin has begun to change the picture and European governments are again spending more.

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