Press conference by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council ,

[…] And all leaders were very clear. We stand together all for one, and one for all. Our commitment to Article 5, the collective defence clause of our Alliance, is ironclad. Today, we took a wide range of important decisions.

We have increased the readiness of our forces. I can announce that we have delivered on the NATO Readiness Initiative. Allies have committed 30 battalions, 30 air squadrons, and 30 combat ships, available to NATO within 30 days. […]

We have also agreed on a new action plan to step up our efforts in the fight against terrorism. All Allies remain committed to the fight against ISIS and our training mission in Iraq and the training mission in Afghanistan. […]

We are committed to strong deterrence and defence, while remaining open to meaningful dialogue with Russia. NATO is responding to Russia’s deployment of intermediate-range, nuclear capable missiles in a defensive and coordinated way.  And we remain committed to strengthening effective arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.

For the first time, we addressed the rise of China – both the challenges and the opportunities it poses. And the implications for our security. Leaders agreed we need to address this together as an Alliance.  And that we must find ways to encourage China to participate in arms control arrangements.

Questions from the press:

Robin Emmott [Reuters]:  Secretary General, we know that Turkey has been very determined to hold up a plan for defending the Baltics and Poland. I wondered if you were able to resolve this issue today, and if so, how? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg [NATO Secretary General]We have plans in place to protect all Allies, including also, of course, the Baltic countries and Poland. And more than that, we not only have plans, but we have forces, and more forces that before. And in the Baltic countries and Poland, for the first time in the history of our Alliance, there are actually combat-ready troops deployed in the eastern part of the Alliance. And we have tripled the size of the NATO readiness . . . the NATO Response Force, so we can quickly reinforce. And then we today launch the new Readiness Initiative, where we add even more forces, so act quickly, reinforce if needed. […]

Michael Peel [Financial Times]:Secretary General, you’ve spoken about arms control several times and the need to get China involved in arms control agreements. Can you give us a bit more detail on exactly what the ideas are that you’ve discussed, about how China might participate in international arms control? And also, what about the wider challenges that China presents? […]

Jens Stoltenberg:NATO has traditionally been focussed on the Soviet Union and then later on Russia. This is the first time NATO leaders had a discussion and addressed together, based on our analysis, our assessments, a discussion about both the opportunities of the rise of China, connected to the rise of China, but also the challenges. So just the idea that, now, 29 Allies addressed this issue together is an important step in the right direction.

Second, we all acknowledge that this is not a one-dimensional issue. The rise of China, the economic rise of China provides great economic opportunities. It has lifted millions of people out of poverty, but at the same time, we see that China invest heavily in new modern capabilities. […]

Nasir Maimanagy [Salam Watandar in Afghanistan]: My question is about the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban. Do you think there should be a precondition, including ceasefire? Thank you.

Jens Stoltenberg:I welcome the efforts to restart the peace talks. NATO supported the talks, because we believe that we need a political negotiated solution in Afghanistan. The US has consulted closely with other NATO Allies and partners throughout the process, both at the political level, but also, of course, for instance, Ambassador Khalilzad has been many times in Brussels. So we are closely consulting on the efforts to restart the peace talks in Afghanistan.

I welcome also, of course, the efforts to try to either have some kind of ceasefire and/or at least a reduction in violence. But I will not be specific on the exact preconditions for restarting the peace talks. What I can say is that we are committed to continue to support Afghanistan, because we strongly believe that the best way NATO can support the peace efforts is to train, assist and advise the Afghan security forces, so Taliban understand that they will never win on the battlefield. They have to sit down and make real and serious compromises on the negotiating table.

So we will continue to be in Afghanistan and then we really hope that the peace process will provide us with a credible peace deal.[…]

Richard Galpin [BBC]: We understand that President Erdoğan wants NATO to agree to the Kurdish group, the YPG, to . . . that it should be designated a terrorist organisation. Did you discuss that? And if so, what did you decide with that? And also, how acceptable is it for Turkey to be buying a Russian air defence system, as far as NATO is concerned?

Jens Stoltenberg:It’s well known that there are different views among NATO Allies on how to designate YPG and PYD, the Kurdish groups in Syria. That’s publicly known. It was not addressed specifically in the meeting today. But it is an issue which has been discussed among NATO Allies and it’s widely known that there are different views on that. […]

All NATO Allies are part of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. NATO is part of the Global Coalition. And we have just agreed an action plan on how we can further step up our fight against terrorism. And our training mission in Afghanistan, our training mission in Iraq, our support to the Global Coalition, all of that is about fighting terrorism and we’ll continue to do that.

On the S-400 issue, that’s a national, Turkish decision. Many Allies have expressed concerns. I also expressed my concerns about the consequences of that decision. What I can say is that a Russian air defence system, S-400 would never be integrated into NATO. It will never be part of the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence system. So this will be a standalone system, not integrated into NATO.