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Iran Press TV

Mattis speaking of a 'fair demand' in Brussels

Iran Press TV

Wed Feb 15, 2017 8:56PM

US Defense Secretary James Mattis reiterates President Donald Trump's NATO policy, signaling that allies should pay up if they want American support.

Trump has been a staunch critic of US alliances, including with members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, arguing that other members are not paying their fair share for the alliance while some of them are the ones causing most of the trouble for the bloc.

Mattis, who is in Europe's de facto capital, Brussels, defended "the American taxpayer" in prepared remarks on Wednesday.

"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values," warned the general, known in the US military as the "Mad Dog," while speaking at NATO headquarters on Wednesday.

"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."

The retired Marine Corps general further tried to highligh the idea that the US is actually committed to NATO, arguing that "It's a fair demand that all who benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom and we should never forget that ultimately it is freedom that we defend here at NATO."

'Americans are right!'

Defense officials in Europe reacted to Mattis' remarks, German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen backing the American general's comments.

"The Americans are right. It's a question of fairness that we Europeans together also make an effort and the burden is not too much on the Americans. We have committed to wanting to reach our contribution gradually and that's what we are working on. We are working on that," she said, citing a rise in the German defense budget, which has increased by 8 percent for 2017.

"It is an enormous sum but it has to continue," she added.

'Don't get Americans wrong!'

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg did not seem to agree with the idea that the US wants Europe to increase military spending, asserting that that is not what Mattis wants.

"This is not the US telling Europe to increase defense spending," he said, stressing that the whole bloc members should attest to the necessity of an increase. "This is about implementing something which 28 heads of state and government has agreed that we will do together. And of course I welcome all pressure; all support to make sure that happens."

Speaking after meeting Mattis, Stoltenberg defended what he referred to as a "strong US commitment to NATO."

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