Cabinet Ministers from the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are meeting in Brussels this week to discuss defence planning for the next ten years.
Cabinet Ministers from the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) are meeting in Brussels this week to discuss defence planning for the next ten years. Nato's secretary-general, Signor Manlio Brosio, said the alliance was interested in a substantial improvement in East-West relations.
At Tuesday's session ten Nato countries agreed on the outline of a programme which would boost their contribution to the cost of Western European defence by about 1,000 million dollars (about 400 million pounds sterling). The biggest share of the costs is being contributed by West Germany. An aim of the programme is to give European countries a greater share in the burden of maintaining 300,000 United States servicemen in Europe.
American's European partners were heartened by a statement on the eve of the conference by the U.S Secretary of Defence, Mr. Melvin Laird, that the United States would maintain its present combat strength in Europe at least until the summer of 1972.
In Brussels Mr. Laird warmly praised the Nato countries' decision to raise their contribution to defence costs.
The European Defence Improvement Programme, as the new effort of officially called, introduce extra measures in three main categories of effort.
The first includes development of a Nato Integrated Communications System which would improve consultation and control in times of tension, and new aircraft survival measures to help Nato air forces to survive enemy strikes on their bases.
The second involves substantial improvements to national forces in the future. All the forces concerned would be fully committed to Nato.
The third is that West Germany will make available to Turkey special aid worth 79 million dollars (32 million pounds sterling).
Britain is not making further special financial contributions but will contribute four Jaguar fighter squadrons, an armoured regiment and the aircraft carrier Ark Royal for Nato's southern flank.
Mr. Laird's contribution to the discussion on Tuesday included a review of the United States commitment to Nato and comments on the Nato suggestion to the communist countries of the Warsaw Pact for a mutually balanced reduction of forces in Europe.