NATO leaders attend Alliance's 70th anniversary summit in London (Photo: Yves Hermann/Reuters) NATO leaders attend Alliance's 70th anniversary summit in London (Photo: Yves Hermann/Reuters)

Despite a rough start on Tuesday, with a tense exchange between French President Emanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump, NATO leaders released a statement reaffirming the “enduring transatlantic bond" between Europe and North America.

Speaking to at a press conference at the close of the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said leaders had also had a substantive discussion about Russia, and the future of arms control, declaring, "We are committed to strong deterrence and defense, while remaining open to meaningful dialogue with Russia."

NATO also addressed the rise of China for the first time, the challenges and opportunities it poses, as well as its security implications for the alliance. Leaders agreed NATO needed to address this together, Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance must find ways to encourage China to participate in arms control arrangements.

Stoltenberg also said allies had made progress in their committed to burden sharing. European allies and Canada had increased their military spending by 130 billion dollars since 2016 and planned to add another 400 billion by 2024.

“This is making NATO stronger,” he said.

The Secretary General also pushed back on Macron's claims about the brain-death of NATO and said the alliance was successfully dealing with new challenges.

NATO leaders attended a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Queen Elisabeth II Tuesday evening. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said it was an opportunity for leaders to speak in a less formal environment.

“It was an opportunity to share our thoughts with other leaders in a less formal way. The atmosphere was very positive. We addressed all current global security issues and the alliance's plans for the future,” Plenković said.

Croatia’s PM also downplayed Macron's brain-death remarks, saying NATO was firm and strong.  "Sometimes there are arguments, there are outstanding issues, but the alliance is still here,” Pleknović said.

The PM made a pledge to allies that Croatia planned to increase its defense spending gradually to reach the 2% of GDP target by 2024. He also briefed them on how Croatia plans to further modernize its military. On the fringes of the summit, Plenković met with Turkish President Erdogan and the prime ministers of Montenegro and Northern Macedonia.