United States reaffirms commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon attend a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium on February 15, 2017.

"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defence of western values".

"America can not care more for your children's security than you do", Mattis told his counterparts, according to prepared remarks given to media.

Mattis, a former US Marine Corps General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander of Transformation, who has been picked by Donald Trump to head the US defense establishment, put before the NATO leaders the US demand in unequivocal terms.

"We need to be clear that the response to worldwide terrorism cannot be led by NATO, but it can a part of that", a second senior European NATO diplomat said.

Norway now uses 49 billion kroner on defence, amounting to 1.56 percent of its GDP.

Stoltenberg acknowledged difficulties. "The picture is still mixed, some allies are still really struggling", he said when asked about budget constraints in Italy, which is trying to reduce its budget deficit following the euro zone crisis.

Defense ministers from North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are under pressure to raise contributions to the security group as conflicts grow across the world and as the new US administration urges more compliance from member states.

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon asked members that are now spending less than two percent of GDP on defense to "at least demonstrate good faith" by committing to an annual increase.

Shortly before the closed door meeting, Mattis called the alliance the "fundamental bedrock" for the U.S.in public remarks. Hitting the two percent target would require spending an additional 13 billion kroner but as the Norwegian GDP grows, that price tag will only get larger with every passing year.

"We need an open conversation on where we're going" on defense spending, Mattis said.

"A number of European nations already meet the 2.0 [per cent] On Tuesday, the International Institute for Strategic Studies thinktank said in its annual military balance report that United Kingdom defence spending had fallen to 1.98 per cent in 2016".

Trump's spokesman said this week that Russian Federation must give back Crimea to Ukraine, while Trump tweeted that if the former United States administration had been more "tough" on Russian Federation it might not have invaded Ukraine in the first place.

"Ten million more for defense in 2016 across Europe and Canada is an important step in the right direction, but it's not enough, we have to do more", Stoltenberg noted.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, who discussed the issue with Trump last month, has warned European Union leaders to raise their defence spending.

"After many years of cuts, I am glad to say that we have turned a corner", Stoltenberg said.

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