this is the briefing — i'm maryam moshiri. our top story: it was supposed to be the day that britain left the eu — instead mps will once again be voting on theresa may's brexit deal. ukraine prepares to vote on sunday in what's being described as one hello. of the country's most unpredictable this is bbc news, the headlines: british mps are expected to vote again on brexit later on friday, presidential elections. but only on part of the deal negotiated with the eu. more than twenty thousand people both labour and northern ireland's attend a remembrance service democratic unionist party say for the victims of the new zealand's they won't back the deal. president trump has used his first rally since the end mosque attacks two weeks ago. of the investigation by the special counsel robert mueller to claim that his political in business, premium fare. opponents used the probe taxi app lyft is valued to try to illegally seize power. at over $24 billion as investors pile on board in the biggest stock market listing a summary of the report, that was released last week, cleared mr trump of conspiring with russia to steal the us 2016 election. and a remembrance service has been held in christchurch for the 50 people shot dead in two mosque attacks a fortnight ago. prime ministerjacinda ardern gave
an address, saying new zealand now on bbc news, hardtalk. stephen sackur talks to nato‘s secretary general, jens stoltenberg. welcome to hardtalk, from nato headquarters in brussels. i'm stephen sackur. the north atlantic treaty organisation is 70 years old this year, but despite its achievements and longevity, celebrations are muted. that's because nato‘s cohesion and long—term viability are being questioned as never before. more than anything else, that's because the united states is now led by a nato—sceptic president. my guest today isjens stoltenberg, nato‘s secretary general. is he simply papering over nato‘s widening cracks?
jens stoltenberg, welcome to hardtalk. thank you so much for having me. i should begin by wishing nato a happy 70th birthday, but it is not a time for celebration, is it? nato, it seems to me, is facing a real crisis. would you agree? it is a time for celebration because we have achieved a lot, but it's not a time for complacency, because we still have a lot to do. i think we see a paradox, and many people in europe and north america question the strength of the transatlantic bond, the strength of nato, but at the same time, the reality is that we are doing more together now than we have done
for many years. increasing readiness of forces, presence of nato troops in the eastern part of the alliance for the first time in history, the us is increasing its presence in europe, and european allies are stepping up. so the paradox is that north america and europe are doing more together than for many many years. on a day—to—day basis, of course nato continues to function and do important things, but you just alluded to the fundamental problem when you said people are questioning nato‘s purpose. the most important person questioning nato‘s purpose is us president donald trump. listen to these words from two former us ambassadors to nato. "president trump's open ambivalence about nato‘s value to the united states has hurtled the alliance into its most worrisome crisis in memory". would you agree? no, i don't agree, because i don't think that we are in crisis. i totally accept that we have differences, some disagreements, but the reality is that we are actually able to deliver and work together.
hang on, hang on, you've already said that, but if we go into specifics, they itemise his — donald trump's public questioning of america's article 5 commitment to its allies, his persistent criticism of europe's democratic leaders, and his embrace of antidemocratic members of the nato alliance, his continued weakness in failing to confront nato‘s primary adversary, president vladimir putin. these are all issues that donald trump has put onto the table, and which undermine the cohesion of nato. well, the message from president trump and from the united states is that they are committed to nato, but they want european allies to do more. and i agree. i agree that european allies and canada have to do more, and they are actually now doing more, investing more in our collective defence... we've just heard from germany that despite the promises they made to raise their defence spending,
they weren't going to reach the 2% which nato allies are supposed to reach, but they said they would reach i.5% in the next five years. they've now reneged on that, it is clearly not going to happen. well, germany, as many other european allies, they were reducing defence spending for many years. then over the last year, germany has started to increase significantly. also, the budget for next year is an additional increase in defence spending... but it will go down again by 2023. did you not catch the finance minister issuing his latest outlook on the budget, saying that defence spending may well be back at 1.25% in 2023? what germany has done is submitted a plan to us on the defence investment pledge, the pledge to move towards 2%, and that is that they will increase defence spending by 80% from 2014 to 2024, for the decade
we are promised to increase... but did you catch what the finance minister said just a few days ago? i just expect that germany will deliver on what they have promised. but the americans don't. the us ambassador to germany, richard grenell, he heard what the finance minister said about the budget outlook on defence spending, and he said this is a very disturbing signal to nato, and now german politicians are threatening to throw him out of the country. this is the reality of nato today. so far, germany has done what they promised, and that is to increase defence spending. that's also the case for the budget they just now presented. that's a budget that now will be discussed in the bundestag, and though the final details are not yet decided, i hope they can improve even more. and then... what if they don't? the german finance minister says they can't, so what if they don't? the finance minister has agreed with what the government has promised nato in the plan they have submitted to us, which is to increase by 80%. so far they are following the plan
and i expect them to continue to do so. we know because of investigative reporting by the new york times several times during the last year, donald trump, to his closest aides and associates in the white house, questioned america's continued membership of nato. he talked openly about leaving. given what we've just discussed about germany and its complete failure to match what trump wants, the 2% spending level, why would you believe for one second that over the next two years donald trump won't think even harder about pulling the us out of nato? because president trump has stated clearly, publicly and in meetings, here at the nato summit, he did so at the summit injuly, he did so in the state of the union speech a few weeks ago, that he and the united states, they are committed to nato. why would he tell his aides that he think the united states must consider leaving?
for me what matters is partly what president trump states publicly in speeches, in brussels and washington and elsewhere, last time he said he was 100% behind nato, but this is a commitment to nato not only in words but also in deeds. after the cold war, the us reduced its military presence in europe, —— in europe, now the united states is increasing its presence in europe, with a new armoured brigade, with more — with leading one of the battle groups in the baltic countries in poland. there is more funding positioned for equipment and exercises, so the reality is that both in words and actions, we see more us commitment and presence in europe. we will get back to that, because it is important, injust a moment. on this notion that on your 70th birthday, nato faces uncertainty and a sense of crisis which we haven't seen for a long time. there's one other element, it's notjust about donald trump, but there are other things happening. for example, brexit. one of your key european member states, britain, is in political turmoil. we do not know as we sit here just how brexit will end up,
but it may be — and emmanuel macron said this recently at the eu summit — he said if britain over the next few days or weeks votes or decides on a no deal exit from the european union, that is going to fundamentally challenge everything about the way europe works, including on security relationships. how worried are you by that? so brexit is a very serious issue, but brexit will not change the uk's relationship to nato, it will change the uk's relationship to the european union. of course, but it will change the security relationships between britain and eu member states, who are also nato member states. well, if anything, i think brexit will make nato even more important, because then nato will be an even more important platform for european allies to work together. and i really believe that if brexit happens,
or even though brexit will happen, we just need to strengthen nato as both a political and military alliance, bringing together european allies and also north american allies. how worried are you that a no deal brexit could potentially poison relations between britain and other key european members of your alliance? when i speak to european leaders, and leaders in the united kingdom, they all convey the same message to me, that brexit will not weaken their security cooperation within nato, if anything, the opposite. it will strengthen the importance of nato in working together on security and defence. you, when we talked about donald trump's attitude to nato, you pointed out that the us is making new commitments on the ground in the european theatre. we heard just the other day in washington the us top military chief in europe, general curtis
sca parrotti, saying this, he said: "i am not comfortable with the defence posture that we have in europe, in particular when you look at the modernisation of the russian forces we face". he talked about the growing threat from russia, he talked about fundamental weaknesses in the nato alliance‘s surveillance and reconnaissance capacity, apart from anything else. do you recognise that? he is our supreme allied commander in europe and i talk often with him. but he's not comfortable, are you? that's exactly the reason why we are at the moment in the midst of the biggest adaptation of nato in a generation, the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence in decades. for the first time in our history, we have combat—ready battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance. we have tripled the size of the nato response force and we are further increasing the readiness of forces. we're establishing two new commands, one in germany,
one in the united states, and we are exercising more than ever before... but if i may say so, secretary general, the bottom line is that despite the americans sending in these high—profile new b—52 bombers to the uk, despite the new troops that are being sent from the us to poland, despite all the things that you're talking about, russia doesn't fear nato, and russia is prepared to ignore all the warnings and the military deployments, and the potential punishments that you talk about. nato‘s main task is to provide credible deterrence and defence, to send a clear message to any potential adversary that an attack on one ally will trigger a response from the whole alliance. and we have successfully been able to do that for 70 years. no nato ally has been attacked for 70 years. sure, but, but other european countries on the fringes of nato that would like to be
in nato have been attacked. indeed, we have seen vladimir putin celebrating in the last few days the fifth anniversary of the annexation of crimea. nato said that that could not stand, it was unacceptable, five years later here we sit, vladimir putin is very happy, nato‘s threats, the talks of sanctions and punishments, everything else simply have not worked. i am not saying that the ukraine is not a serious issue and nato has responded to what russia did in ukraine, but that doesn't change the message that nato has succeeded in helping to create an unprecedented period of peace in europe, 70 years of peace is unprecedented. i'm thinking about how i would be listening to your words if i were a ukrainian. what has nato‘s response over the past five years achieved in ukraine? we have provided strong political support and strong practical support. what have you achieved? training ukrainian troops, nato allies helped to do that. nato established different programs, trust funds, we helped them with command control, logistics,
modernised their armed forces, their security institutions, so we... have you forced russia to pull out its special forces from east ukraine? but we have done a lot, meaning that... no, but have you? no, but ukraine is not an nato ally. ukraine is a partner, we help and support them, but it is important not to blur the line between an ally and a partner. 0ur security guarantees apply to nato allies, no nato ally has been attacked... recently, president poroshenko pushed through a change to the ukrainian constitution to commit ukraine to a pursuit of nato membership, and indeed, eu membership as well. from what you're saying, it is quite clear that ukraine stands no chance of becoming an actual member of nato, does it? ukraine receives a lot of support from nato and nato allies. and they are grateful for that. we have also helped them to curb incidents with their naval capabilities and we will continue
to help them do that in georgia and other black sea countries. what are the chances of ukraine becoming a full nato member? i will not speculate about the chances, nato allies have reiterated the decision we made some years ago that ukraine will become a member of nato, but we haven't set any timetable for that. just on this point you make about the actions taken to deter russia — and my point that russia doesn't seem deterred — would you accept the word of, for example, the cyber security consultancy firm fireeye that russians even today, as we speak, are continuing to disrupt european elections and infrastructure as best they can with cyber warfare? again, the words, threats, setting up of a new cyber operations command in nato, has done nothing to deter russia? it has done a lot to defend our cyber network... but aren't the russians, as of today, as far as you know,
are they still hacking european infrastructure and, indeed, trying to disrupt european elections, including the forthcoming european elections? i am not saying this is not a challenge. but i'm just asking you as head of nato, are the russians doing it today? they are trying to — we see many examples of russia trying to hack and to go into our cyber networks. that's exactly why we have significantly improved the defences of our cyber networks and we're able to defend our networks with the most advanced systems in the world. we are continuing to do that and we are improving our defences and we are also developing new ways of working together, helping different allies with also improving their cyber defences. so, yes, we are responding to a more assertive russia, also in cyberspace. on that point of fact — yes or no — do you see efforts on the part of russia to disrupt the european elections, which are due to be held in may?
we see reports from different nato allies that they are concerned about that. it's for that european union, they're responsible for those elections, i will not go into their responsibilities, but we are ready to help and support and we will work closely with the european union on strengthening cyber defences. we, for instance, share malware information real—time. we have a close cooperation with the european union. let's go through a few particularly challenging arenas where nato is involved, where you, i imagine, have invested a lot of time and energy thinking about the best way forward. let's start with syria. donald trump took everybody by surprise late last year by declaring he was going to pull out the 2,000 military personnel the us has in northern syria. we now see claims that the last is — so—called islamic state — stronghold has fallen in northern syria. do you believe that the pentagon pulling out all us forces remains a wise strategic decision? i believe that the global coalition
and all nato allies — and nato is part of that global coalition to defeat isis — has made enormous progress. not so many years ago, isis controlled a territory as big as as the united kingdom — millions of people. now they have lost the territory they controlled. that is a big achievement. then we have — and nato will continue to be part of that coalition, for instance, by having a training mission in iraq. because our idea is that we need to train local forces, enabling them to prevent isis... but i asked you specifically about a pull—out of us forces. because interestingly, despite donald trump's words, the pentagon warned just last month that is can still count on the loyalty of tens of thousands of fighters who are now dispersed throughout syria and, more particularly, iraq. so pulling out us military personnel, simple question — do you think that is the right thing to do? nato is part of that coalition but nato is not on the ground in northern syria... iamjust asking... ..therefore i will not give advice
on the military posture in northern syria simply because we all know that it is a difficult issue, also because two nato allies have a different views on that. turkey has one view and the united states has another view. what i welcome is the fact that the united states and turkey are sitting down and talking, also at nato meetings, on how to address the specific situation in northern syria. the broader picture is that we have made enormous progress and great achievements in the fight against daesh. the fight is not over. we need to continue to fight daesh in the middle east and elsewhere. but the nato idea is that, the more we can build local capacity, train local forces so they can stabilize their own country, the better. you allude to the very real political problems between turkey and the united states — two key members of your organization. turkey is intent on buying russian 5400 missiles — very sophisticated missiles which the americans believe would fundamentally compromise their security as part of the nato alliance. are you worried about that missile purchase?
that is a difficult issue because we have not discussed it and addressed it for a long time... do you want the turkish government to abandon... it is a national decision... ..the missile purchase... ..what kind of equipment different nato allies are buying. at the same time, we know that this is something which creates difficulties in the relationship between turkey and the united states, not least related to the f45 fighterjets which turkey also want to buy. therefore, again, ijust welcome the fact that we continue to address the issue, and turkey and the united states are talking... you welcome the facts that we continue to address the issue — with respect, secretary general, you are not taking any position at all. i am ask you a very simple question — do you think turkey should not but the russian missiles?
that would not be helpful. the best thing i can do is to try to find a solution between united states and turkey. if i went out publicly and gave them advice, i think that would not make my work easier and we would not move closer to a solution. let's talk about one other very specific situation you have to face — afghanistan. again, the americans, donald trump's administration, appears to be intent on at least cutting by 50% the number of american troops in afghanistan in very short order. he wants to focus on counter—insurgency ops and stop the work alongside the afghan military — training and helping the afghan military. are you pleased with that? i am pleased that we now see progress when it comes to peace talks for the first time in many, many years. yeah, but before we get to peace talks, there are many european nations who are part of the training programme in afghanistan who worry that, if the united states pulls out, it is basically going to undermine the entire programme. but it has been clearly stated by the united states, several times after press reports came out that no decision has been taken. these are issues we have
discussed with the us into the nato framework... you do not want them to go ahead with that? no—one wants to stay in afghanistan longer than necessary, but the thing is that we went into afghanistan together, all nato allies and united states, we will make decisions on the future posture in afghanistan together, and when we eventually leave, we will leave together, but we are now supporting the efforts to find a negotiated, peaceful deal, a solution, and the reason why we provide military support, why we are present in afghanistan, is to create the conditions for a political, peaceful solution. so, if everybody is working together in afghanistan, do you support the fact that the us government is locked now senior talks with taliban leaders in qatar and elsewhere, against the wishes, it seems, of the afghan government. with an afghan national security adviser, hamdullah mohib, saying earlier this month that afghan security forces were being, quote, "sold out" by the us in what was a humiliation for the afghan government. you have a stake in afghanistan.
are you supporting those talks that the us is conducting against, it seems, the wishes of the afghan government? yes, i support those talks because i think they are the first step towards a potential political peaceful solution to the conflict in afghanistan. but one of the issues they will discuss in those talks is how to organise, how to facilitate an afghan reconciliation process, because there will be no lasting peace in afghanistan without an afg han—owned, an afghan—led... sure, but the afghan government has been cut out of these talks. this is the first step. i think this is the only way now to get the peace process on track. we have run through a lot of different issues and i appreciate your time. we've got time for one more, and it's perhaps the biggest question facing nato outside of russia, and that is china, because donald trump has made it clear in recent weeks that he believes nato should now turn its head toward china and look
at how it can collectively combat what the us sees as dangerous efforts by china to use its leverage and its economic muscle to get into infrastructure, telecoms, inside nato member states. do you see this as something that nato now has to address? i see that china as a rising power, a growing economy, investing more in military capability — the second largest defence budget in the world next to united states'. nato has no plans whatsoever to move into south east asia but, of course, china is coming closer to us, in europe, in the arctic, in africa, in cyberspace... that is a very interesting phrase, "china is coming closer to us". let me ask you as a last, simple question, does nato now regard china as a strategic security threat that it, as an alliance, must address?
no, we don't regard them as a threat but we see the challenges related to the rise of china and we have to assess the consequences for our security by that. jens stoltenberg, i thank you very much for being on hardtalk. thank you so much. hello. plenty of dry weather on the way through friday, lasting into the weekend as well. but there is another weather change taking place. now, this weather front will give a bit of rain to northern scotland on through friday. not very much as it moves south over the weekend. but that other weather change on the way, behind that weather front, there will be cooler air arriving. this is how we start friday.
and it's cold enough for a touch of frost in parts of england and wales. some fog patches too, more especially towards wales and western england, gradually clearing during the morning. and then sunny spells on a fine day. more cloud for northern ireland, across much of scotland as well. and it's breezy with the rain still there for the northern and western isles, parts of the north north—west of the mainland of scotland on through the day. so with the cloud here, temperatures have come down a bit compared to what we had on thursday. for england and wales it'll feel warm in the sunny spells, maybe 18 degrees in
south—east england. let's take a look at things through friday night and into saturday morning. remember that weather front is still here, edging very slowly further south through scotland, a little snow to the higher hills. to the south of that it remains dry. and again, especially for parts of england and wales, a few fog patches developing, it will be cold enough for a touch of frost in a few spots as saturday begins. that takes us onto the weekend. there is a weak weather front moving south. barely any wet weather associated with it, so many places will be dry. but, again, the more significant aspect of that weather front is the change to cooler conditions. so here it comes. the cooler air will very slowly percolate southwards on through saturday and eventually we will all be in the cooler air into sunday. and for some of us it will be quite a drop in temperatures. but again, coming with plenty of dry weather. here is the weather front on saturday. it's an area of cloud and not much else. we could see a little bit of light rain pushing into parts of england and wales. see a few wintry showers running through parts of northern scotland, may see a bit of snow into shetland from that as the colder air moves in. but still south of our weather front some warmth, southern parts of wales across southern england into east anglia, some spots into the high teens.
but notice barely double figures behind our weather front. now, as we look at the picture for sunday, here's the front edging again a little further southwards. but it's high pressure that's building back in behind it, that's why it is still essentially settled. but of course that will bring some cloud, that weather front moving south, with the odd spot of light rain, nothing more than that. elsewhere, some clear weather to begin with. some cloud building, but most places are staying dry. and there could well see some rain, rather than snow, then pushing back in towards shetland as the day goes on. and for all of us at this stage those temperatures have come down. that's your forecast.