World

Tillerson to press Nato on defence spending

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will present a demand from President Donald Trump at a meeting of the Nato allies tomorrow that they increase defence spending.

The annual Nato foreign ministers talks in Brussels were brought forward at the last minute after Mr Tillerson warned he would not be able to attend on the long-planned date.

He is reportedly keeping time free early next month to take part in a possible golf resort summit between Mr Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

But Mr Tillerson needs to meet with his colleagues to prepare for Mr Trump's first full Nato summit on May 25.

And Mr Tillerson's apparent reluctance to commit to the meeting only served to reinforce the impression that Mr Trump places little stock in the US' decades-old alliances.

OBSOLETE

This month, Mr Trump's conviction that the allies must somehow pay Washington for the presence of US forces in Europe cast a pall over talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In barnstorming speeches on the campaign trail last year, Mr Trump declared Nato to be obsolete. But since coming to office, his administration has taken a more positive stance.

Acting as the good cops while bad cop Mr Trump lays out cash demands, Vice-President Mike Pence and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis reaffirmed the US commitment to Nato.

Mr Tillerson, having finally agreed to meet his colleagues at his first Nato talks, must now translate Mr Trump's tweets into a diplomatic strategy to strengthen the alliance. - AFP

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