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U.S. Defense Chief Assures French, German Counterparts Of NATO Commitment


U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has assured his German and French counterparts that the United States' has an "enduring commitment" to NATO.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian were the third and fourth European allies that Mattis has called to reassure since taking office last week.

Longtime allies have been shaken by U.S. President Donald Trump's criticism of NATO as "obsolete" and suggestions that the U.S. might refuse to defend allies who do not spend enough on defense.

Trump has criticized NATO members that fall short of spending the 2 percent of GDP goal set by the alliance -- prompting Germany, Romania, and others to consider boosting their defense spending.

The Pentagon said Mattis on January 26 thanked von der Leyen for Germany's leadership in NATO activities in the Baltics and in Afghanistan and acknowledged the role that Germany plays in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said after officially taking office on January 27 that "Europe, the transatlantic partnership, and multilateralism" will remain the core values of German foreign policy.

Gabriel is due to travel to Paris on January 28 to meet with Le Drain and discuss the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria.

Based on reporting by Reuters and dpa