Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Thursday, 15 January 2009

Hutton attacks Nato over troops

John Hutton
Mr Hutton said Nato members were not standing together

John Hutton has hit out at Britain's European allies for failing to send enough troops to Afghanistan and called on them to "step up to the plate".

The defence secretary, at a news conference, accused Nato members of expecting the US to do the "heavy lifting" when fighting the Taleban.

"That is not an alliance, that is one-way traffic," he said.

Mr Hutton said the UK was one of only a "handful" of European countries playing their part in the Afghan battle.

Ministers have been urging European nations, such as France and Germany, to do more in Afghanistan for some time.

'Standing together'

In his most outspoken comments to date, Mr Hutton told the conference: "It is not honest, credible or, I think, sustainable to say that the Americans can do more.

"That is not an alliance, that is one-way traffic."

He went on to call for all Nato members in Europe to play their part.

"It is not for us to go on saying the Americans can go on doing all the heavy lifting," he said.

"Nato has to stand together. I do not believe that Nato members are currently doing that efficiently and effectively.

"We have got to look first and foremost to our European allies."

The UK is the second largest troop contributor to Afghanistan.

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