World leaders gathered today for the Nato summit amid growing tensions between members following Donald Trump’s war of words with Emmanuel Macron.
The Nato summit in Watford comes amid campaigning ahead of the 12 December UK General Election. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has arrived at the summit marking the alliance’s 70th anniversary.
Johnson told reporters on his way in that Nato’s “very simple concept of safety in numbers” has provided “peace and prosperity for hundreds of millions of people”.
“At the heart of it is a pledge that we will come to one another’s defence – all for one and one for all,” he added.
The PM has pledged that the government would continue to invest two per cent of its GDP into defence, calling its commitment to Nato “rock solid”.
But talks at this year’s Nato summit have been overshadowed by tensions between US president Trump and French President Macron.
Trump yesterday criticised Macron’s description of Nato as “brain dead”.
In a freewheeling, impromptu press conference, Trump retorted: “France is not doing well economically at all, they are struggling. It’s a tough statement to make when you have such difficulty in France.”
“No-one needs Nato more than France,” he added, referring to the yellow-vest protests that have rocked the country this year.
Nato’s secreytary general, Jens Stoltenberg, also rejected Macron’s criticism.
He said: “Nato is agile, Nato is active, Nato is adapting.”
In comments yesterday he added: “I’m a politician, and I’m used to being criticised for good rhetoric but bad substance. In the case of Nato it is the opposite. We have had bad rhetoric but extremely good substance.”
Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have committed to spend billions more dollars on their militaries in the hope that Trump will ease his own attacks on Nato members.
Earlier this week Trump called Nato allies “delinquent” for failing to spend as much money as the US on their armed forces.
Now Europe, Turkey and Canada will collectively use today’s Nato summit to commit to spending a collective $400bn (£312bn) on defence by 2024.
Macron, meanwhile, defended his criticism of Nato on Twitter.
“If we invest money and risk our soldiers’ lives… we should be clear on Nato’s fundamentals,” he wrote.
Nato is also expected to warn China today that it is monitoring Beijing’s huge military growth by agreeing to prepare allies for any possible future aggression.