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Pompeo hammers German defense spending

April 27, 2018

Echoing the views of his boss, the new US top diplomat was adamant about the need for allies to meet defense commitments. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas emphasized Berlin's humanitarian efforts in Syria and Iraq.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the NATO foreign ministers' summit in Brussels
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/V. Mayo

At a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels on Friday, the new US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, chided allies, foremost among them Germany, for a lack of progress in meeting defense spending commitments.

Although German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed his country's humanitarian efforts in Syria and Iraq, adding that the new government was currently preparing a budget, he stopped shy of promising it would lead to increased defense spending.

Read moreNATO in a nutshell: What you need to know

Key points of Pompeo's address

  • Pompeo, on the job for less than a day, immediately called out allies for the slow pace of spending increases.
  • Echoing what has been a standard US talking point for years, he told attendees that "European nations must bear the necessary responsibilities for their security and make the case to their fellow citizens why it is critical to fulfill their obligations on defense spending."
  • Asked if Germany was doing enough, he said: "No. They should meet the goals they signed up for."
  • He noted the US was "thrilled" that so many allies prioritized defense spending but added, "That's what they signed up for."
  • He stated that by July, the US expects to see finalized plans for meeting spending commitments.
  • Pompeo also said that Russian aggression and meddling had made NATO "more indispensable than ever."

Read moreHow does Germany contribute to NATO?


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said of Pompeo's arrival just hours after being sworn in: "I think it's a new record. It reconfirms the commitment of the United States and President Trump to the transatlantic bond."

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: Germany "has an extraordinary presence in terms of its perception of its international responsibility and we are also fulfilling our obligations to NATO."

Not paying their dues: US President Donald Trump has repeatedly slammed NATO allies for falling short of their commitments towards NATO's defense spending. Several NATO countries, including Germany, are way short of meeting a commitment made at a NATO summit in Wales in 2014 to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

Which EU countries meet the spending target: Greece, Britain, Estonia and Poland are four of NATO's EU allies that meet the 2 percent spending target.

js, ap/sms (AP, AFP, dpa) 

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