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NATO affirms unity as minsters put Donald Trump era behind them

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Former US President Donald Trump often criticized NATO partners for failing to pay their fair share of the defense burden, claiming falsely that they owed the alliance or the United States money.

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | AP

PUBLISHED ON MAR 23, 2021 10:50 PM IST

NATO foreign ministers on Tuesday reaffirmed their commitment to defend each other against outside attack and underlined the strength of relations between North America and Europe, after four years of doubt and concern among some allies under the Trump administration.

In a formal statement, the ministers said: “We are meeting in Brussels to reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond between Europe and North America, with NATO at its heart.”

The ministers, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, also committed to the collective defense clause — Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty — under which an attack against one ally shall be considered an attack against them all. It has only been activated once by NATO, after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Former US President Donald Trump often criticized NATO partners for failing to pay their fair share of the defense burden, claiming falsely that they owed the alliance or the United States money.

Early in his tenure, he threatened not to come to the defense of any country that did not meet NATO spending guidelines, causing deep concern among member nations close to Russia’s borders, like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

The ministers noted that members of the 30-nation alliance “are making good progress on fairer trans-Atlantic burden sharing; we welcome the efforts made by all Allies in Europe and North America that contribute to our indivisible security. We must and will do more.”

They also vowed that NATO would continue to adapt in the face of “rising threats and systemic competition,” and underlined that “Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security.”

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