World Bulletin / News Desk
NATO defence ministers gathered for talks Wednesday amid US concerns over the EU's landmark defence cooperation pact and increasingly strained relations between Washington and Turkey.
The two-day meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels is expected to approve changes to NATO's command structure aimed at making the alliance fit for the challenges of warfare in the 21st century, particularly cyber tactics and hybrid warfare, as fears grow about Russian assertiveness.
But a working dinner with EU diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini later Wednesday has taken on greater significance after senior US officials voiced fears about the bloc's defence pact.
Despite concerns from the alliance's biggest power, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the right balance could be struck.
"Done in the right way, these efforts can make a contribution to fairer burden-sharing between Europe and North America," Stoltenberg told reporters as he arrived for talks with NATO defence ministers on Wednesday.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly urged allies to increase their share of spending to ease Washington's burden.
On Tuesday Stoltenberg said efforts to boost EU defence spending were welcome, but only if they were coordinated with NATO plans, warning there was "no way" the EU could replace the transatlantic alliance in guaranteeing European security.
"It will be absolutely without any meaning if NATO and the EU start to compete," the former Norwegian premier told reporters.
"European allies are absolutely aware that the defence, the protection of Europe is dependent on NATO."
The EU's so-called permanent structured cooperation on defence agreement, known as PESCO, has projects in view already to develop new military equipment and improve cooperation and decision-making.
But on Sunday a senior official working with US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Washington had concerns some of the proposed initiatives risked "pulling resources or capabilities away from NATO".
President Donald Trump repeated his call, meanwhile, for arming some of America's teachers and claimed the controversial proposal was increasingly drawing support.
Clashes oppose Israeli forces and local residents in Dehisha camp
Economic penalties aimed at curbing Pyongyang's sanctions-evasions practices that facilitate coal, fuel transports
Will of Turkish Cypriot people must be included in gas drilling process in the Mediterranean, says Turkish Cypriot premier
Embassy opening will coincide with Israel's 70th anniversary, State Department spokesperson says
Russia stalls a vote on a ceasefire allowing humanitarian access in Syria, US envoy to UN says
Canadian foreign minister says targeting civilians is violation of international humanitarian law
Heather Nauert reiterates Turkish military operation in Afrin would cause a "distraction"
International law continues to view West Bank and East Jerusalem as 'occupied territories'
Hamas blasts Palestinian president's calls to resume talks with Israeli occupiers
Some say transport union leader Hugo Moyano is promoting the strike in a bid to avoid probe
Video stating Florida school shooting survivor is an actor becomes top trending video on site before it is removed
Coalition of opposition parties say elections called by government do not offer them any guarantees
Twelve Palestinian lawmakers remain in Israeli custody
Israeli army frequently carries out wide-ranging arrest campaigns in the West Bank