Washington warns Nato over US commitment in defence spending row

Posted On: 
16th February 2017

Washington will “moderate its commitment” to Nato unless the alliance increases its spending on defence, Donald Trump’s defence secretary has said.

Theresa May said Donald Trump was comitted to Nato "100%"
Credit: 
PA Images

James Mattis put the group on notice despite insisting it remained a “fundamental bedrock” of the United States and the trans-Atlantic community.

Last month Theresa May insisted the US president backed Nato “100%” - which he confirmed as the pair shared Mr Trump’s first press conference with a world leader since his election.

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The tycoon had branded the alliance “obsolete” on the campaign trail and demanded members meet the Nato target to spend 2% of GDP on defence.

Only five of the 27 countries currently meet the target - the UK, the US, Greece, Poland, and Estonia.

Mr Mattis told the Nato headquarters in Brussels:  "No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of Western values…

"Americans cannot care more for your children's future security than you do.”

He warned: "America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence.”

But he added:  "The alliance remains a fundamental bedrock for the United States and the trans-Atlantic community, bonded as we are together.”

British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said Mr Mattis had warned that the patience of the US taxpayer was “beginning to run out”.

"This was a very timely reminder by the American Defence Secretary that he expects European countries to step up to the commitments they made two years ago to increase their defence spending, and we agree with him,” Mr Fallon told Sky News.

"Now we meet that commitment, other countries, many of them have not increased their defence spending, and this was a very sharp warning to the rest of them that we all need to meet our commitments.”

But he insisted US commitment to Nato was “absolute” and recalled Mr Trump’s “100%” commitment.