Brussels- The American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson went into damage control mode attempting to calm nervous European NATO member states after his Friday remarks demanding Germany increase defense spending the US claims it has had to pay for in the past.
German Foreign Minister Gabriel stated it was not “reachable or desirable” for the Germans to spend the two percent GDP amount on defense as previously agreed. He pointed out that NATO states actually have until 2024 to reach the target amount.
If we were to pay two percent, this would be military spending of some 70 billion euros. I do not know any German politician who would claim that reachable or desirable.” Gabriel proclaimed to the first NATO meeting attended by Tillerson.
During his first remarks to NATO ministers Tillerson pushed for American allies to pay up or outline plans for meeting the target “contribution” when NATO ministers meet again on May 25th at a top level summit US President Trump will personally attend.
Trump during Campaign 2016 had indicated he wanted the US to leave NATO over the lack of matching funds by European allies. Suggesting security guarantees were tied to payments rather than defense itself. Trump has also indicated he expects NATO to be more involved in American efforts to combat terrorism.
NATO leader Stoltenberg went out of his way to soften the tone set by Tillerson’s harsh verbal attacks stating, “ties between the United States and NATO European members were rock solid.” He went on to state, ” stepping up NATO efforts to project stability and fight terrorism” were already on the agenda for Friday.