US President Donald Trump’s defense secretary is warning NATO allies that they must honor military spending pledges to ensure the United States does not “moderate” support for the alliance.
Jim Mattis, on his debut trip to Brussels as Pentagon chief, also accused some NATO members of ignoring threats, including from Russia, Reuters reports.
“America cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” Mattis said in a closed-door session with NATO defense ministers, according to prepared remarks provided to reporters.
The comments represented some of the strongest criticism in memory of allies who have failed to reach defense spending goals.
Europe’s low expenditure has long been a sore point for the United States, which puts up 70 percent of alliance funds. But Trump has made change a priority, saying allies have “been very unfair to us” for not spending more.
Trump was sharply critical of NATO during his election campaign, making European allies nervous by calling the alliance obsolete and praising Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump has voiced strong support for NATO, comments echoed by Mattis at NATO’s Brussels headquarters.
Mattis called NATO “the most successful and powerful military alliance in modern history” and made a point of shaking hands with each of his European counterparts at the start of the meeting.
Mattis, however, suggested US support should not be seen as a given.
He stopped short of issuing an explicit ultimatum or say how the United States might moderate its support. The United States for years has called for European allies to spend 2 percent of economic output on defense, he said.
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