Stoltenberg: We are not aiming at isolating Russian Federation

Two HAF F-16s close on the LJ45 left wing. Image credit

Two HAF F-16s close on the LJ45 left wing. Image credit

"NATO will never turn off dialogue with Russian Federation". Details of the plan, drawn up by the US and to be in place by 2020, remain sketchy.

The NATO chief also confirmed that ministers are due to approve the establishment of new command centres in the German city of Ulm and in Norfolk in the United States.

He said a day earlier that the move was not "about setting up or deploying new forces - it is about boosting the readiness of existing forces across each and every ally", Stoltenberg said.

Today, NATO defence ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss a US-sponsored plan to position additional forces in Europe to deter Russian aggression.

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A year ago, Trump embarrassed US allies outside their new billion-euro headquarters by publicly berating them for failing to spend enough on their defense budgets.

The United States and European allies also have differences over trade issues and the USA decisions to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate accord. At great expense, European allies are trying to keep that deal afloat.

This comes as the NATO-led Resolute Support and US Forces Commander General John Nicholson had earlier said that the U.S. Forces-Afghanistan will honor the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan ceasefire with the Taliban, announced by H.E. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, on June 7.

The tariffs have also been a delicate issue for US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who had placed great emphasis on strengthening US ties with its western allies.

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Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said the United States was "encouraged by Germany's effort", although Trump's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation envoy, Kay Bailey Hutchison, stressed the spending issue would remain a sore point for the president.

If fulfilled, it would mark the fourth year in a row of hikes and would represent an $87.3 billion increase since 2015.

Just over half the allies - 15 of them - have provided action plans laying out how they will close in on that benchmark by 2024. Germany lags in defense spending and is likely to face more criticism.

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