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NATO countries to cut "fat and not muscle": Rusmussen

06-11-2010 10:37 BJT

BRUSSELS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday urged member states to "cut fat not muscle" in defence budgets as they are forced to make cuts due to current financial crisis.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (4th L) gives a speech during the opening session of a NATO defence ministers meeting (NAC) at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels June 10, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (4th L) gives a speech during the 
opening session of a NATO defence ministers meeting (NAC) at the Alliance 
headquarters in Brussels June 10, 2010. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

NATO defence minister began a two-day meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday morning. The NATO chief told reporter that "the financial crisis has put enormous pressure on defence budgets in all NATO countries. Many have already made cuts - some very deep."

"And there is more to come," he warned.

His words came as NATO issued the latest statistics, showing that just five members, the United States, Britain, France, Greece and Albania, met NATO's informal target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence in 2009.

However, Fogh Rusmussen said that he was encouraged by Thursday 's discussion as ministers have showed "a shared sense" on the issue.

"We must cut fat and not muscle. While seeking savings, we must nevertheless preserve our ability to deter attacks against us and to carry out essential operations," he said.

He also called for a "coherent approach" to tackle the issue, saying "we can retain the essential capabilities we need, avoid pointless duplication, and buy together what we couldn't afford individually."

Within the alliance, NATO has made 1.5 billion euros in saving over the next four year for its military budgets, he said.

The Dane said that he would present proposals to make NATO's command structure more efficient and cut the number of committees by three quarters, to less than one hundred.

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