UK foreign secretary says military to stay strong

AP News
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Posted: Oct 18, 2010 7:43 PM
UK foreign secretary says military to stay strong

Britain's foreign secretary said Sunday that he believes the United States has been reassured about his country's commitment to a strong military force even as it cuts spending.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said Britain would remain a formidable player within the NATO alliance, maintaining an independent nuclear deterrent, strong intelligence agencies and highly deployable military forces.

Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government will reveal its military spending plans on Tuesday. News reports over the weekend claimed that spending will fall by around 8 percent.

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed concern about the impact of British budget cuts on NATO capabilities.

"Each country has to be able to make its appropriate contributions," she said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

"Of course there are cuts that we're making, but then there are new responsibilities, like cybersecurity or missile defense, that we're going to have to assume."

In an interview on Sky News, Hague said he had met Clinton in Brussels on Thursday and had explained the British position.

"She did, indeed, express her concerns about Europe in general and NATO in general, not specifically about Britain," Hague said.

"I've described to her the nature of what we're doing ... and I think the United States is reassured by that, that we will retain a wide spectrum of military capabilities. Anyone in office in the United States appreciates just how much Britain does in the world and we will be continuing to be a big contributor to NATO and to the collective defense of all NATO nations."

At the end of the budget process, Hague said, "we will make sure this country is properly defended, that we continue to have an independent nuclear deterrent, formidable intelligence agencies, highly deployable armed forces so we will remain a global player."

"We will remain a serious military power in NATO and in the world."

The White House said in a news release later Monday that Obama and Cameron had spoken by telephone and Cameron said the UK would remain remain a first-rate military power and remain committed to meeting its NATO responsibilities.

Obama emphasized that the U.S. values the United Kingdom's contributions to global security, the statement said.

Obama said he appreciated the Cameron government's "commitment to retain the full spectrum of military capabilities that permits our forces to partner effectively together around the world," according to the statement.