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27 April 2017 – London, York - The United Kingdom remains an outward-looking, trading nation determined to continue playing a major role in Euro-Atlantic security, Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan MP reassured a visiting delegation of NATO Parliamentarians. UK government officials stressed the need for all NATO allies to meet the 2% GDP defence spending target, with at least 20% of it dedicated to defence investment. Mike Penning, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, noted that the UK is in favour of stronger NATO-EU cooperation but would not support creation of parallel EU defence structures.
Britain is highly concerned about Russia’s provocative stance towards Allies, including its hostile use of the cyber domain, the visiting NATO Parliamentary Assembly delegation heard. The UK contributes substantially to reassuring eastern European Allies including by leading NATO’s enhanced forward presence in Estonia and deploying military assets near the Polish-Lithuanian border (“Suwalki gap”). Host country speakers also criticised Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine and its acts of intimidation against NATO partner countries.
During a 4-day visit to London and York, NATO Parliamentarians also received briefings on, inter alia, the challenge posed by Daesh, instability in the Middle East and North Africa region, counter-terrorism, as well as UK civil protection and emergency relief approaches. Briefings in London took place in the House of Commons and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In York, the delegation visited the Emergency Planning College, the UK's leading training centre for organisational resilience, the headquarters of the 1st (UK) Division, and the University of York, one of preeminent research universities in the UK. The delegation of the Assembly’s Sub-committees on Democratic Governance and on Transatlantic Relations was led by Lord Jopling (United Kingdom) and Øyvind Halleraker (Norway) and comprised of 19 legislators from 12 Allies nations.
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