NewsAlert: Canada extending mission in Latvia; adding more troops

Saturday, 14 Jul, 2018

The meeting between Trudeau and Kucinskis focused on broader security issues and the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit, which will take place in Brussels on July 11 and 12, as well as on economic cooperation between Latvia and Canada.

Questioned repeatedly about Trump's attacks on European allies and Canada, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg acknowledged the trans-Atlantic differences but refused to say whether the U.S. leader's attacks are damaging the alliance.

Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kučinskis said that despite the great distance separating the two countries, cooperation between Canada and Latvia is a lot better than is the case with plenty of countries that are a lot closer to each other.

"We have to start thinking about how we create societies that look at different stories as opportunities to learn and grow within your societies, rather than trying to keep the challenges of the world outside of your borders".

Mr Abbott says while Canberra increased defence spending from 1.6 per cent of GDP to 2.0 per cent, "more needs to be done" given the 60 per cent rise in military spending across the region in the past decade.

The only true growth will be in Latvia, where the government plans to add 80 new soldiers to 450 already there.

He was casual and familiar with the troops, joking around at a spaghetti dinner and admiring the armoured vehicles and equipment they had laid out to showcase for him.

"It becomes extremely important not just to stand and show that we are ready to fight for our values and demonstrate that strength of convictions....it is also really important that we do so not as individual nations, but as a collective".

The president acknowledged Monday on Twitter that other member states have increased their defence spending, but repeated his complaint that the US contributes far more than other countries, which he said "is not fair nor is it acceptable".

"In order to trade we have to have safety", he said.

"European allies are stepping up". We do have disagreements.

"That's the reason why they agreed to invest more in defence back in 2014", Stoltenberg said.

"This need not presage a darker time, like Rome's withdrawal from Britain, but more will be required of the world's other free countries".

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. Members don't pay dues, although they do contribute to common military and civilian programs - and Washington pays nearly one-quarter of those costs.