Clinton frets over U.K. defense cuts

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a press conference at the end of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Defense and Foreign ministers' meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

TEXT OF STORY

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is worried about expected cuts to Britain's defense budget. She says all NATO countries must make appropriate contributions.

The BBC's Rebecca Singer reports from London.


REBECCA SINGER: A reduction in the defense budget is expected. Britain is one of the few NATO countries that spends 2 percent of its GDP on defense. But Secretary Clinton says defense cuts could send the wrong signal to other European allies.

HILLARY CLINTON: NATO has been the most successful alliance for defensive purposes in the history of the world, I guess, but it has to be maintained. Now each country has to be able to make its appropriate contributions.

But critics say defense budget are poorly managed. Tim Banfield's is with the National Audit Office, which monitors public spending.

TIM BANFIELD: The Ministry of Defense's decision making processes and budgeting processes are poor -- so they are committing to more projects that they can afford.

Meantime, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- en route to a NATO meeting in Brussels today -- expressed worry that as U.S. allies cut their defense spending, the more people will look to the U.S. to cover whatever gaps are created.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.

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