NATO chief to discuss anti-Daesh strategy in Washington talks

French Navy Frigate Montcalm participates in NATO’s Dynamic Manta 2017 anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Mediterranean sea, Italy, recently. (Reuters)
Updated 20 March 2017
0

NATO chief to discuss anti-Daesh strategy in Washington talks

BRUSSELS: NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg headed for Washington on Monday for the first time since US President Donald Trump was elected, holding talks with senior officials about defeating Daesh, his office said.
Stoltenberg will meet US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday, then meet foreign ministers from the US-led coalition working to defeat Daesh, his office said in a statement.
He will also hold a series of unspecified meetings during the visit beginning later Monday and ending Tuesday, it added.
During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels last month, US Vice President Mike Pence said Trump expects NATO allies to make real progress by the end of this year toward meeting the increased defense spending target agreed by the alliance.
The transatlantic alliance set a goal in 2014 of raising defense spending to two percent of GDP over a decade.
So far, of the 28 NATO members, only the US, Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia have met the two percent target.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Angela Merkel has underlined Germany’s rejection of a claim by President Trump that it owes NATO large sums for underspending on defense. She has pointed to a history of decades of post-World War II military restraint.
Trump tweeted on Saturday that “Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO.” Germany is short of a NATO target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, with the figure currently at 1.23 percent.
Merkel said on Monday that defense spending is “not just about contributions to NATO, but also about European contributions in Africa for example, UN missions.” She added: “Not a single NATO member state pays its entire defense budget into NATO.”
Merkel said that defense spending “cannot be uncoupled from historical developments from one day to the next.”


Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

Updated 2 min 51 sec ago
0

Britain condemns Israel bias at UN rights council

  • British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
  • Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”

GENEVA: Britain on Monday urged the UN Human Rights Council to reform its treatment of Israel, joining the United States in demanding an end to the body’s alleged bias against the Jewish State.
Addressing the opening of the 38th council session, British foreign secretary Boris Johnson criticized the council’s controversial Agenda Item 7, a permanent fixture on the schedule exclusively devoted to discussing rights abuses in the Palestinian Territories.
“We share the view that the dedicated Agenda Item 7 focused solely on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories is disproportionate and damaging to the cause of peace, and unless things change we shall vote next year against all resolutions introduced under Item 7,” Johnson said.
Israel is the only country with a dedicated council item.
Washington, some European countries and Australia have sided with Israel in condemning Item 7 as prejudiced, noting that countries with arguably worse rights records in recent years, like Syria are spared such intense scrutiny.
While previous US administrations have criticized Item 7, President Donald Trump’s government has raised the prospect of withdrawing from the council unless it is scrapped.
Johnson noted however that the council had an important role to play in “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the right agenda item.”
Each council session includes an agenda item on so-called country specific situations, known as Agenda Item 4, where debates on the crises in Syria, Burundi and others typically take place.