Europe

NATO chief says helping partners' armed forces is crucial

  • A tent stands ready to welcome the heads of the 28 NATO members and other officials for a NATO summit at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 7, 2016. The Polish capital Warsaw will host a two-day NATO summit starting Friday, July 8, the first time ever that it hosts a top-level meeting of the Western military alliance which it joined in 1999. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

    A tent stands ready to welcome the heads of the 28 NATO members and other officials for a NATO summit at the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, July 7, 2016. The Polish capital Warsaw will host a two-day NATO summit starting Friday, July 8, the first time ever that it hosts a top-level meeting of the Western military alliance which it joined in 1999. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)  (The Associated Press)

  • President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, July 8, 2016. Obama traveled to Poland to attend the NATO summit and then will travel on to Spain. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    President Barack Obama walks down the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Chopin Airport in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, July 8, 2016. Obama traveled to Poland to attend the NATO summit and then will travel on to Spain. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his son, Xavier, disembark a government plane as they arrive in Warsaw, Poland, Friday July 8, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his son, Xavier, disembark a government plane as they arrive in Warsaw, Poland, Friday July 8, 2016. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)  (The Associated Press)

NATO's chief says it's not sufficient for the alliance to reinforce its own armed forces, it must also help partner nations in the Middle East and North Africa that are threatened by extremist violence.

"For our nations to be safe, it's not enough to keep our defenses strong, we must help to make our partners stronger," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Friday, several hours before the opening of a landmark summit meeting of alliance heads of state and government.

"Training local forces is often our best weapon against violent extremism," Stoltenberg told a forum of defense and security experts. Among the items on the NATO summit's ambitious agenda is increased assistance for Iraq's military, extension of the West's financial commitment to the Afghan military and police, and aid for Tunisia.