US Defense Secretary: US committed to NATO collective defense principle ({{commentsTotal}})

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Source: (Reuters/Scanpix)

The U.S.' commitment to the collective defense principle described in NATO's Article 5 is "rock solid" according to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Mattis said that NATO remains the "fundamental basis" for transatlantic cooperation, but warned allies that the U.S. will "moderate its commitment" to NATO if other member states do not increase their defense spending.

During a press conference on Thursday, Mattis was asked to clarify what he had meant when he referred to reducing commitment, to which he replied that the message about the more equal sharing of defense commitments was expected and it was well received.

The defense secretary commended those countries, including Estonia, that are already fulfilling the agreement of NATO member states to dedicate at least two percent of their GDP to defense spending.

Member states of the alliance have agreed to raise defense spending to two percent by 2024. Currently the defense spending of only five of the alliance's 28 members meets or exceeds the two-percent minimum.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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