Wednesday, February 15, 2017

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO

NATO to stress ‘fair burden-sharing’ in Mattis visit – POLITICO: NATO allies are ready to show the color of their money to the first emissaries of Donald Trump’s administration at a ministerial meeting in Brussels this week.

Ahead of the arrival in Brussels on Wednesday of Defense Secretary James Mattis, the first senior member of the new U.S. government to visit Europe, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said defense ministers would focus on “fair burden-sharing.”

During the election campaign, Trump rattled NATO by describing the military alliance as “obsolete” and complaining that some member countries were not bearing their share of the finances. More recently, the president has toned down his criticism but he continues to beat the drum on costs.

“We strongly support NATO, we only ask that all NATO members make their full and proper financial contribution to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” Trump said during a visit to the U.S. Central Command headquarters in Florida earlier this month.

Stoltenberg insisted at a news conference Tuesday that military spending by NATO allies was already on the increase and he provided new data for 2016 showing an aggregate rise in spending of $10 billion. Still, the overwhelming majority of NATO countries fall short of the stated goal of spending 2 percent of their annual GDP on defense.