Clinton says European defence cuts could hit NATO

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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday warned that cuts to defence budgets by European governments seeking to rein in spending could damage the NATO military alliance.

Clinton's comments to the BBC came just days before NATO member Britain, a key US ally in the Afghan war, unveils sweeping cuts to its defence budget.

The secretary of state urged NATO allies to maintain the most successful defence alliance "in the history of the world" and said its 28 member states had to keep paying into the organisation to ensure it had a future.

Asked whether the question of defence cuts in Europe -- and specifically Britain -- worried her, Clinton told the British broadcaster: "It does.

"The reason it does is because I think we do have to have an alliance where there is a commitment to the common defence.

"NATO has been the most successful alliance for defensive purposes in the history of the world I guess, but it has to be maintained,"

"Each country has to be able to make its appropriate contributions," added Clinton, talking to BBC World News in Brussels where she was attending a meeting at NATO headquarters.

Her warning came ahead of a defence review in Britain next week. The finance ministry is seeking a reduction of up to 10 percent in the Ministry of Defence's budget between 2011 and 2015.

© 2010 AFP

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