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NATO head says 'no imminent threat' to alliance member countries

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is not worried about military attacks on member countries.

“I don't see any imminent threat against any NATO ally, and that's because of NATO,” Stoltenberg told CTV’s Question Period host Vassy Kapelos, in an exclusive broadcast interview airing Sunday. “NATO’s core task, (its) main responsibility, is actually not to fight the war, but to prevent the war.”

“And the way NATO has prevented war for more than 75 years is make it absolutely clear to any potential adversary that an attack on one ally will trigger a response from the whole alliance,” he added. “As long as that is credible, then there will be no military attack against any NATO ally.”

Stoltenberg’s visit to Canada came just weeks before members of the alliance are set to meet for their annual summit July 9 to 11, to celebrate the group’s 75th anniversary.

NATO, now made up of 32 member countries, was established in the aftermath of the Second World War with the goal of promoting collective security, especially through the North Atlantic Treaty's Article Five, which stipulates that an attack on any one members is considered an attack on all.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen told Kapelos in an interview airing Sunday he agrees with Stoltenberg’s assessment.

While he can’t remember a time in his life when there’s been more turmoil and risk in the world, he said, it’s important to remember the security alliance’s emphasis on defence.

“I think the NATO countries are in pretty good shape,” Cohen said. “And I think a big part of that is because of the strength and the power of NATO.”

“The notion that if you invade any NATO country, every inch of any NATO country will be defended by all NATO countries, it's a huge deterrent effect,” he added.

Stoltenberg, who is also the former prime minister of Norway, is set to step aside when his current term ends in October, after a decade serving as secretary-general.

He said standing together in a group such as NATO — which makes up about half the world’s “economic might,” and about half of the world’s “military might” — is more important now than ever “in a more dangerous” global context.

Despite his confidence in the collective defence and deterrence NATO provides, Stoltenberg said more alignment with Indo-Pacific countries could be critical to further discouraging offensives from autocratic countries, such as China and Russia.

The alliance’s upcoming leaders’ summit in Washington will also include a focus on strengthening ties with certain Indo-Pacific countries, with officials from South Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand — to name a few — planning to attend the gathering.

Stoltenberg said that while those countries have partnered with NATO, he doesn’t imagine them becoming formal members of the alliance.

“But it is important that we work more closely with our Asia Pacific partners, because we see how authoritarian nations, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, are aligning more and more, and we see that in particular in Ukraine,” he said.

“When they are more aligned, when they support each other, it's even more important that NATO stands together, but also that we work more closely with our partners in the Indo Pacific: Japan, South Korea and others,” he also said.

You can watch Stoltenberg’s full interview on CTV’s Question Period Sunday at 11 a.m. ET.

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