US demands boost in defence spending from NATO members
Brussels, Feb 16: The United States Secretary of Defence has told NATO members gathered in Brussels that the Washington government is prepared to reduce its input into the alliance if they do not boost their spending on defence.
James Mattis echoed President Donald Trump's demand that participating members increase defence spending to 2 per cent of their gross domestic product, otherwise the US would moderate its commitment, EFE news reported.
"It's a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defence in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom," Mattis said in a transcript of his speech made available by NATO.
Mattis said that he was confident that the alliance would react to changing circumstances, as it had done in the past. He added that Trump had stated his strong support for NATO.
"The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community, bonded as we are together," Mattis said. "We're here as you all know to chart the course of the alliance in the future," Mattis said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance needed more defence spending and a fairer burden-sharing. "After many years of cuts, I am glad to say that we have turned a corner," Stoltenberg said. He said that NATO's latest figures, published on Tuesday, showed that defence spending among European allies and Canada had increased by 3.8 per cent in real terms in 2016.