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Disputes roil military alliance on 70th anniversary

LONDON – NATO leaders gathered here Wednesday for talks amid public infighting between some of the military alliance’s biggest member countries, including sharp exchanges between President Donald Trump and France’s leader Emmanuel Macron.

Trump will hold one-to-one talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later. 

But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg rejected criticism from Macron that the military alliance is suffering from “brain death.” He also dismissed complaints from Trump that member states are not boosting their NATO military budgets quickly enough and insisted that the organization is adapting to modern challenges.

“NATO is agile, NATO is active, NATO is adapting,” Stoltenberg said before chairing a meeting of the alliance’s members at a luxury hotel and golf resort outside London.

“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,” the Norwegian national said.  

Trump in Britain for NATO meetings:Macron talks may be more important

The disputes have threatened to undermine the credibility of the 29-nation alliance as it marks its 70th anniversary. Trump and Macron clashed Tuesday over the French leader’s criticism of NATO. Macron said NATO needs “a wake-up call” and expressed dissatisfaction over a lack of U.S. leadership – comments that did not sit well with Trump but also cast him as the defender of an alliance he has repeatedly disparaged as “obsolete” and far too dependent on U.S. funding. 

Trump described Macron’s remarks as “very nasty.”

The two leaders also diverged about how to ensure the Islamic State group does not regain a foothold in Syria after Turkey’s incursion against Syrian Kurds there.