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NATO is “alive & kicking” while allies differences create rifts

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Opinion |

The decision to “downgrade” the NATO’s historic summit meeting in London on the 70th anniversary of the alliance to a mere “Leaders’ Meeting” implied that no joint declaration or communique would need to be issued after the event. That was smart thinking.

The apprehension was that the sharp differences amongst the alliance partners on many crucial issues on the agenda all but precluded the scope for consensus decisions.

In the event, the differences became the leitmotif of the summit, thanks largely to the rift between the US President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron just before the summit, in full public view, which in turn overshadowed almost everything else. The anti-Trump US media lobby had a field day.

However, it is apparent from the press conference by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg following the London summit that the event was far from unproductive, and, instead, as he put it, the allies took “a wide range of important decisions.” Stoltenberg highlighted the following:

In the run-up to the NATO summit in London, Macron had outright rejected the idea of the western alliance casting China as an adversary

Stoltenberg said there was a “substantive discussion” regarding Russia. He explained, “We are committed to a strong deterrence and defense while remaining open to meaningful dialogue with Russia. NATO is responding to Russia’s deployment of intermediate-range, nuclear-capable missiles in a defensive and coordinated way.”

There was no cutting edge in Stoltenberg’s remarks regarding Russia. It appears that Macron’s recent remarks in media interviews stressing the importance of engaging Russia in dialogue accounted for the NATO’s mellowed tone.

Equally, although China figured for the first time in a NATO summit as an agenda item for discussion, Stoltenberg paraphrased the deliberations in a non-combative way, which implies that the US couldn’t quite carry the day. To quote Stoltenberg,

“For the first time, we addressed the rise........

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