NATO chief Stoltenberg on impact of Trump pressure: "Actions speak louder than words"

WASHINGTON -- Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Jens Stoltenberg, said Sunday that President Donald Trump's pressure on NATO members regarding financial commitments has helped convey a "clear message about the need for increased defense spending across Canada and Europe."

"And a good thing is that the European Allies now understand that we have to invest more in defense, not only to please the United States, but because it is in the interest of Europe to invest more in security because we live in a more dangerous world," Stoltenberg said, in an interview with "Face the Nation."  

Stoltenberg said that defense spending has now started to increase across Europe, and that "more Allies will reach the 2% target this year or next year."

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Jens Stoltenberg on "Face the Nation," June 4, 2017.

CBS News

"President Trump, just suggested a 40% increase in funding for U.S. military presence in Europe. We will-- we will have a new armored brigade. We will have more training, more equipment, more infrastructure. So actions speak louder than words. And we see now actions, meaning increased U.S. presence in Europe," Stoltenberg added. 

Stoltenberg appeared undeterred by Mr. Trump's at-times questionable commitment to staying in NATO, saying Mr. Trump "has in meetings with me -- publicly when I met him in the White House last month -- stated that, he is committed to NATO and his security team has also stated that very clearly."

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis also said -- on "Face the Nation" -- that there is "no doubt" the United States is committed to its fellow NATO member countries.

Stoltenberg's comments come after Mr. Trump's first foreign trip, during which the president reissued his calls for NATO members to pay their "fair share" in order to help drive out terrorism and violent extremists across the globe. 

"Twenty-three of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying and what they're supposed to be paying for their defense," Mr. Trump said. "This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years and not paying in those past years."

Stotlenberg also said that in light of the latest deadly terror attack in England, the incident "underlines the importance of stepping up the efforts to fight terrorism."

"And NATO has an important role to play," he said.

"The terrorists, they want to change the way we live," Stotlenberg said. "And they want to attack our open, free societies.  And the best response is to stand up for our open, free societies and continue to live the lives we want to live. Because then the terrorists will lose."

When asked about the United States' departure from the Paris climate agreement, Stoltenberg told "Face the Nation" anchor John Dickerson that "He has made his decision, and we have heard the reactions from European allies. And I think this illustrates that NATO is an alliance of 28 democracies." 

While NATO is not an official signatory of the agreement, He added that "NATO has been-- able to rise above these differences and stand together, be united around our core task to defend and protect each other. And that's exactly what we are doing now."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital