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Mattis warns NATO in strongest criticism yet

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 01:45

The face of the Trump administration's Pentagon, James Mattis, simultaneously praised NATO and warned it over American support during his first alliance summit as defence secretary. Matthew Larotonda reports.

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James Mattis, the face the Trump administration's Pentagon, giving his NATO allies a strong warning: Honour military spending pledges or the United States may temper its support for the alliance. Said during a closed-door session at NATO's headquarters in Brussels, his first visit as secretary of defence. Telling his counterparts, "America cannot care more for your childrens' security than you do," according to prepared remarks given to media. He also accused some nations of ignoring threats, including from Russia. Only a handful of NATO's European members spend its reccomended 2 percent of GDP on defence. A shortfall President Trump campaigned on, once calling the alliance "obsolete". Since then he's cooled off, saying he backs NATO - comments Mattis echoed in public on Wednesday (February 15). (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENCE, JAMES MATTIS, SAYING: "The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and for all the transatlantic community. As President Trump has stated, he had strong support for NATO." Now European members say they've increased spending by some $10 billion last year. But the NATO secretary general says more is needed: (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO SECRETARY GENERAL, JENS STOLTENBERG, SAYING: "We still have a long way to go. It's not enough. // We don't expect allies to meet the 2 percent target immediately but we expect all allies to stop the cuts and start to increase defence spending." Trump isn't the only president to have called for spending increases. Predecessor Barack Obama often said the United States bore an undue burden. But Trump has been far more assertive - and far more unsettling for NATO.

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Mattis warns NATO in strongest criticism yet

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - 01:45