NATO allies meet new US Defence Secretary James Mattis for the first time in Brussels Wednesday, seeking reassurance over President Donald Trump’s commitment but bracing for military spending demands.
Pentagon head Mattis has voiced support for the transatlantic alliance, in contrast with the sceptical Trump, and has been tougher on Russia than his boss, whose views worry NATO’s eastern European member states in particular.
But the retired marine general is still set to push the rest of the 28-nation group to meet their increased military spending pledges, despite many in Europe facing tough financial situations.
In a sign that the Trump administration’s pressure on the issue is bearing fruit, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said on the eve of the meeting that boosting spending was a top priority.
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