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US Defense Secretary James Mattis Threatens to Reduce NATO Commitment | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

United States Defense Secretary James Mattis warned NATO allies to meet their spending pledges on Wednesday, if not, the Donald Trump administration would “moderate its commitment” to the transatlantic alliance.

“Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do,” retired marine general Mattis said in prepared remarks to defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals need to show support for our common defense.”

Mattis called for “milestone dates” this year that would track NATO member contributions.

But Mattis’s strongly worded call for cash carries extra weight as it comes after Trump has said US help for NATO allies, already worried by the threat from Russia, might be contingent on how much they have paid.

Mattis’s ultimatum to his counterparts in Brussels follows years of calls by Washington for NATO members to spend two percent of their GDP on defense, a goal few meet despite agreeing on it at a summit in 2014.

The directness of Mattis’s message took many observers by surprise — he had said his focus during his first NATO summit would be to “listen, learn, help and lead” after NATO allies expressed concerns over Trump’s commitment.

Currently, only the United States, Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland have hit or surpassed the two percent figure.