Theresa May will today call on Nato to join the military campaign against Islamic State terrorists to show ‘unity’ with Britain in the wake of the Manchester attack.
Although many Nato countries are already part of the coalition targeting IS forces in Iraq and Syria, the military alliance itself has so far been reluctant to join in.
Speaking at a Nato summit in Brussels today, the Prime Minister will urge fellow leaders to reconsider, telling them: ‘Our unity in responding to common threats is our most potent weapon.’
Theresa May, writes a message at Manchester Town Hall after the attack at the city’s arena on Monday night
Mrs May will then travel to Sicily for the G7 summit of world leaders, but will cut short her attendance to return to the UK tomorrow night to oversee the response to the Manchester attack.
Military experts believe Nato involvement could allow the coalition to step up drone strikes against jihadis plotting attacks against the West.
But France and Germany are pushing for the alliance’s role to be limited to training and intelligence sharing, fearing that any more could see it sucked into an open-ended military campaign.
However, senior diplomats last night suggested they were willing to drop their opposition to the move in response to pressure from the US and UK.
Last night, Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg said: ‘I expect Nato allies to step up and agree to do more in the fight against terrorism, not least because of the attack we saw in Manchester.
Armed police guard Greater Manchester Police station as a flag flies at half-mast in the background
‘Many allies would like to see Nato as a full member of the coalition, because it sends a strong message of unity.’
Officials said Mrs May’s push on counter-terrorism would ‘not just focus on the military effort’ but would also argue for an international clampdown on jihadi propaganda and for new initiatives to ‘address the root causes and address the spread of this poisonous ideology online’.
But during the Nato summit, the PM will also underline to Donald Trump the growing threat posed by Russia.
The US president, who declared Nato ‘obsolete’ while on the campaign trail last year, is under pressure at home over alleged links between members of his team and Moscow.
Speaking today, Mrs May will make it clear she views the threat posed by Russian president Vladimir Putin to be on a par with that of terrorism, saying: ‘We must redouble our resolve to meet the threats to our shared security, whether from terrorism or Russia.’