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Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 03:29 GMT 04:29 UK
Europe urged to boost Nato spending
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw with US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Jack Straw spoke after meeting Colin Powell
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has warned European countries they must raise defence spending to counter world threats and maintain harmony with the US.

Mr Straw said Nato should play a vigorous role at the centre of the West's defences against the post-Cold War threats of rogue states and international terrorism.

And he warned that Europe's armed forces must play an effective part in the Nato alliance, alongside the United States.

Speaking in Chicago, he said Europe was offering an "increasingly inadequate response" to rogue states and international terrorism.


A relationship where one side of the alliance disproportionately shoulders the military burden is a recipe for resentment

Jack Straw
If the US continued to shoulder a disproportionate military burden within the alliance it would prove a "recipe for resentment", he warned.

He urged European Nato members to use the alliance's summit in Prague next month to deliver on commitments to strengthen their military capabilities.

Mr Straw told the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations that the Balkan and Kosovo conflicts had highlighted glaring gaps between European and US forces, both in terms of preparedness and technology.

Diplomacy and aid

He said during the 1990s, defence spending in most European countries - apart from Britain and France - had dropped below 2% of national income, compared to about 3% in the US.

Europe, said Mr Straw, had achieved "impressive results" through the quiet promotion of democracy, trade, foreign aid and peacekeeping.

But this did not compensate for "effective armed forces" when facing post-Cold War threats.

Mr Straw said Europe needed to invest more to make Nato work - or risk relations with the US.

"A relationship where one side of the alliance disproportionately shoulders the military burden is a recipe for resentment," he said.

Co-operation urged

He urged "regular, close and systematic co-operation with the US in Nato, higher and more focused defence spending and greater efficiency in Europe's armed forces."

This was "essential for the future of the alliance", he said.

Mr Straw, who earlier on Tuesday held talks in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, again emphasised the need to pursue the war against international terrorism with "relentless determination" following the Bali bomb attack.

He also strongly backed US demands for Iraq to give up its weapons of mass destruction or face military action.

Iraq 'resolve'

"The Iraqi regime should be left under no illusion of the consequences of non-compliance or the depth of our resolve," he said.

Relations between the US and European Nato members have come under some strain since the war on terrorism began following September 11.

Many in Washington questioned Nato's relevance after few member countries were able to support the US in its war in Afghanistan.

This was followed by disagreements over military strategy on Iraq, which included a public spat between the US and Germany.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Justin Webb
"The speech will be warmly welcomed by the Bush Whitehouse"
See also:

25 Sep 02 | Europe
25 Sep 02 | Europe
24 Sep 02 | Americas
05 Sep 02 | Europe
03 Feb 02 | Europe
12 Jun 01 | Americas
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