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French Defense Chief Questions U.S. Commitment To NATO


French Defense Minister Florence Parly attends a meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on March 18.

The French defense minister has expressed concerns about the U.S. long-term commitment to NATO and said loyalty to the alliance should be "unconditional."

Florence Parly, speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington on March 18, said that "what Europeans are worried about is this: Will the U.S. commitment [to NATO] be perennial?"

"Should we assume that it will go on as was the case in the past 70 years?" Parly asked ahead of a meeting later in the day with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan for talks on Syria.

Her comments reflect increasing doubts in Europe about President Donald Trump's commitment to the 70-year-old Western alliance, which was highlighted by U.S. military strength and leadership during the Cold War.

Trump has demanded that NATO allies pay more for their defense to ease the burden on U.S. taxpayers and has also often failed to mention a commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which states that if one member is attacked, it is considered an attack on all members.

While acknowledging Trump's demands that Europe spend more on shared defense, Parly also said that "the alliance should be unconditional. Otherwise, it is not an alliance.

"NATO's solidarity clause is called Article 5, not article F-35," the French defense chief in a reference to the F-35 jet fighter.

Trump has often pressed allies to purchase more U.S. defense products and touted what he has called the superiority of their design and quality.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
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