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James Mattis Urges NATO Allies to Increase Defense Spending

James Mattis

Defense Secretary James Mattis has said NATO member countries should increase their defense spending and that the U.S. government may have to “moderate its commitment” to the alliance if nations fail to do so, The Hill reported Wednesday.

Of NATO’s 28 member states, the U.S., Greece, Poland, Estonia and the U.K. are the countries that allocate 2 percent of their gross domestic product to defense efforts, Rebecca Kheel wrote.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Canada and European allies recorded a $10 billion or 3.8 percent increase in defense spending in 2016, the report noted.

Mattis also called on NATO to implement a plan this year that would establish milestone dates for allies to meet the 2 percent defense spending goal and mentioned threats posed by Russia and the Islamic State militant group, according to a report by Lolita C. Baldor for The Associated Press.

“No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values,” Mattis said in a written statement.

His remarks come after he called NATO a “fundamental bedrock for the U.S. and all the trans-Atlantic community” in a public statement prior to the alliance’s closed-door meeting Wednesday.

NATO estimates that the U.S. government allocated 3.61 percent of its GDP to defense programs in 2016, the report added.

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