NATO Must Lay Out Plan to Boost Spending by May Summit: Tillerson

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refused to answer what would happen to the North Atlantic Trade Organization if the US were to leave, in an interview with CNBC on Friday.

"The prime minister was given an opportunity today to assure our allies that Canada will meet NATO's defence spending targets and continue to be a trusted and responsible ally", Bezan and Paul-Hus said.

In his first appearance at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Tillerson sought to assuage worries that the new US administration would seek closer ties with Russian Federation at NATO's expense, particularly after Trump said during the 2016 presidential campaign that the alliance was obsolete.

NATO's 2016 annual report said only five countries met the two percent target - the United States, Britain, Greece, Poland and Estonia - while Washington still accounted for almost 70 percent of combined alliance defence spending.

Along with the familiar rebukes, Tillerson also sought to reassure Europe that the United States - despite comments from President Donald Trump referring to North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as "obsolete" - remains committed to an alliance that has kept the peace on most of the continent for almost 70 years.

Moscow says its "baffled" by the remarks of the US Secretary of State during his debut address at NATO HQ, spewing the same old mantra about "Russian aggression" to unite the alliance in the face of a common "threat" that requires additional spending.

"I'll be honest, we didn't know what we were getting into", the ambassador said, adding: "Boy, did he deliver: he was very, very clear about the United States standing by its allies".

His remarks took aim at "Russian agitation and Russian aggression", and said that the alliance must remain vigilant in strengthening its eastern flank.

He said, twice, that USA sanctions slapped on Moscow as punishment would remain in place.

Apart from the spending targets, the agenda items for the ministers included tensions with Russian Federation and counter-terrorism.

The effort has met with resistance from German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who said the push from Washington was unrealistic and based on a mistaken interpretation of the spending targets, which are not binding. "Allies must increase defense spending".

Tillerson stressed the top USA national security priority is the fight against terrorism.

In a meeting two weeks ago in Washington with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Trump not only demanded that nations like Germany increase military spending but also that they reimburse the United States for past US contributions. United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley said last month that "Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russian Federation returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine".

"The reason [NATO] is the most successful alliance in history is because it's continually been able to adapt", Johnson said.

  • Leroy Wright