NATO defense ministers to meet on June 7-8

NATO defense ministers to meet on June 7-8

BRUSSELS: NATO defense ministers will meet in Brussels on June 7-8 to take decisions regarding command structure and military readiness ahead of a July summit, the Alliance chief announced on Wednesday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a news conference in Brussels that the ministers would also discuss plans for a NATO training mission in Iraq as well as review defense spending and burden-sharing.

NATO-EU cooperation and a training mission in Afghanistan are other topics that the ministers are set to discuss during the meeting, which is to be attended by Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli.

On July 11-12, NATO heads of state and government will meet for a summit in Brussels.

On the command structure, the NATO chief said he was expecting a boost of more than 1,200 personnel to be agreed upon during the meeting.

“I also expect we will agree that our new Joint Force Command for the Atlantic will be based at Norfolk in the United States and that our new Enabling Command will be based in Ulm, in Germany,” Stoltenberg said.

Stressing “high readiness is essential in a more unpredictable world”, Stoltenberg said Allies are expected to agree on a NATO Readiness Initiative.

“This would mean that Allies would have, by 2020, mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 combat vessels ready within 30 days or less,” according to a press release from NATO.

“This is not about setting up or deploying new forces, it is about boosting the readiness of existing forces,” said Stoltenberg.

On burden-sharing and defense spending, he said: “All Allies have now stopped the cuts in defense spending, and started to increase.”

The first figures for 2018 spending are to be announced on Thursday, he added.

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