U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says the NATO military alliance is central to ties between America and Europe and remains of importance to the United States. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT. NO REPORTER NARRATION. President Donald Trump's defense secretary sought to reassure NATO of steadfast U.S. support at talks in Brussels on Wednesday (February 15), as nervous European allies tried to look past Trump's rhetoric and the turmoil within his administration. Jim Mattis, on his debut trip to Europe as Pentagon chief, said the president firmly backed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. As a candidate, Trump fiercely criticised NATO and appeared to question its value. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed concerns about the turmoil or U.S. backing for NATO. Mattis echoed longstanding U.S. calls that European allies invest more on defence, something his predecessors under Republican and Democratic administrations have done for years. NATO defence ministers from Europe, Canada and Turkey also wanted to hear from Mattis, who was the first to address the 27 other defence ministers on Wednesday, on how the alliance can meet Trump's demands to do more to counter Islamist militants. NATO says it is already active, training troops from Afghanistan to Iraq, and cannot do the work of police or social workers in detecting fighters returning to the West from Syria.