Monday, February 13, 2017

Mattis Headed to Europe Next Week for Talks on ISIS Campaign |

Mattis Headed to Europe Next Week for Talks on ISIS Campaign |

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is headed to NATO headquarters in Brussels next week for talks with allies on speeding up the campaign against ISIS and boosting troop strength in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Friday.

Earlier Friday, Mattis met with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, whose support will be crucial at the NATO talks. Von der Leyen's closed talks with Mattis followed on the meeting last week of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel with new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Germany has sought assurances of continued U.S. support for NATO following remarks by President Dgermnonald Trump that the alliance is "obsolete," and his ongoing complaints about NATO members not paying their fair share for defense.

Despite Trump's remarks, Mattis has been upfront in stating that the U.S. commitment to NATO is solid and enduring to counter Russia and ease the concerns of the Baltic states and Poland on threats emanating from Moscow.

Mattis is scheduled to leave Tuesday for Brussels on what will be his second foreign trip since succeeding Ashton Carter as defense secretary.

Later in the week, Mattis will attend the Munich Security Conference, an annual event that bills itself as "a major global forum for the discussion of security policy." Vice President Mike Pence and a congressional delegation are expected to join Mattis in Munich.