President Donald Trump's administration will continue to support its European allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but members need to pay more of their fair share, according to U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
The retired Marine four-star general said that NATO was "his second home." He added that President Trump's administration shares his opinion that the partnership between the U.S. and NATO is "fundamental bedrock" for the security of the U.S.
Mattis made the remarks Wednesday while speaking at a meeting of NATO defense ministers, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to the alliance, each of your capitals needs to show its support for our common defense," Mattis said, according to The Washington Post.
He quoted German's defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, who said that it was fair for "all that benefit from the best defense in the world carry their proportionate share of the necessary cost to defend freedom," the Journal reported.
Von der Leyen said she expected her country to announce increasing spending on NATO this week. "It's a question of fairness that we Europeans pay our fair share all together and that the Americans don't have excessive burdens. We have made the first steps, but there is still a lot to do."
NATO members have pledged to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. In addition to the U.S., four European nations have reached that goal: the United Kingdom, Estonia, Poland, and Greece, according to the Post.
"A number of others are clearly on a trajectory to get there. And we have to have an open conversation among friends and allies about where we're going," Mattis told reporters, including the Journal, during a plane trip on the way to the meeting in Brussels.
"No longer can the American taxpayer carry a disproportionate share of the defense of Western values. American cannot care more for your children's security than you do," the secretary said, according to the Post.
He added that not paying fairly was disrespectful.
"Disregard for military readiness demonstrates a lack of respect for ourselves, for the alliance and for the freedoms we inherited, which are now clearly threatened," Mattis said.
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