The Latest: NATO members reaffirm collective defense

WATFORD, England (AP) — The Latest on the NATO summit near London (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

NATO members have reaffirmed their commitment to collective defense at a summit seeking to smooth over cracks in the trans-Atlantic military alliance.

After meeting near London, leaders of the 29 nations affirmed in a declaration that “our solemn commitment as enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty that an attack against one Ally shall be considered an attack against us all.”

NATO member Turkey had threatened not to endorse a plan to bolster the defense of the Baltic states neighboring Russia and Poland after other NATO members criticized Ankara’s military operation in Syria.

But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday that “we stand together, all for one and one for all. Our commitment to article 5, the collective defense clause of our alliance, is ironclad.”


1:15 p.m.

U.S. President Donald Trump has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

The meeting comes as European leaders, led by French President Emmanuel Macron, are pushing the alliance to get tougher on Turkey after its October invasion of Syria and its purchase of Russian surface-to-air missiles.

Trump has resisted some of those efforts to pressure Erdogan — a point of tension exposed in a feisty meeting Tuesday with the French leader.

Trump hosted Erdogan at the White House last month, despite bipartisan calls that he cancel it in the wake of Turkey’s assault on Kurdish forces in Syria that were allies with the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State group.

The White House confirmed the meeting after Erdogan’s office posted a photo of the two leaders on social media. The White House said they discussed “the importance of Turkey fulfilling its alliance commitments” as well as security and economic issues.


10:20 a.m.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says that Russia will not get involved in an arms race with NATO, even if the alliance increases its military spending.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said that European allies and Canada have added $130 billion to their defense spending since 2016.

Peskov said Wednesday that NATO’s increased military spending “reinforces” the Kremlin’s concerns.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that NATO’s expansion and beefing up of its military infrastructure near Russia’s borders threatens the nation’s security.

Peskov said, however, that Russia will not get involved “in an arms race or in a spending race” with NATO as it would be detrimental to the country’s economy.

“Putin repeatedly pointed out that we are operating in a different way,” he said.


10:05 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is refusing to apologize for saying that NATO is suffering “brain death” and says his remarks could help jumpstart talks at the alliance about important strategic issues.

Arriving Wednesday at a NATO summit near London, Macron said his interview with the Economist magazine, which alarmed some allies, has “allowed us to raise fundamental debates.”

Chief among them, Macron says, is “how to build sustainable peace in Europe.”

He says NATO “debates should be about other things than budgets and finances.”

Macron says leaders’ “responsibility is to highlight ambiguities that could be damaging and to launch a real strategic debate.”

In the interview last month, Macron said NATO was suffering due to a lack of U.S. leadership and through ally Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. U.S. President Donald Trump described the remarks as “very, very nasty.”


9:45 a.m.

NATO leaders on Wednesday played down their differences and insisted that they remain united over security issues and determined to defend each other despite a series of spats between the presidents of some of the alliance’s biggest member countries.

Ahead of a summit near London, French President Emmanuel Macron had lamented the “brain death” of NATO due in part to what he called a lack of U.S. leadership. President Donald Trump branded his remarks as “very disrespectful.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan suggested that Macron himself is “brain dead.”

The infighting is mostly due to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria. Macron has complained that Trump pulled U.S. troops out of the region without warning his NATO allies. Turkey saw the move as a greenlight to send its troops in.

“NATO is agile, NATO is active, NATO is adapting,” NATO-Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said when asked by reporters whether the world’s biggest security alliance is brain dead.

“As long as we are able to deliver substance… then NATO proves once again that we are able to respond to a shifting security landscape, and that’s the best way to also provide unity of this alliance,” he said before chairing the summit at a luxury hotel and golf resort on the outskirts of London.

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