BRUSSELS, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Friday stressed that the US is ready to lead NATO, condemned Russia’s “aggressive campaigns,” called on Europe to increase spending on defence and voiced his views that US President Donald Trump will not stay in the Iran nuclear deal.
“I made it clear here today that the US is eager to continue to lead NATO. Our collective defence demands greater burden sharing,” he told a press conference at the end of NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels this evening in his first appearance on the world stage just one day after being sworn-in in his new post.
He said NATO foreign ministers discussed the Iranian nuclear deal.
“I am confident that will be a topic throughout my trip to the Middle East as well not only the concerns expressed by President Trump but talking about ways to potentially address those shortcomings and finding solutions to the flaws that President Trump has identified for a long time now,” said Pompeo who is to travel to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel from Brussels.
But he stressed that “no decision has been made. The team is working and I am sure we will have lots of conversations to deliver what the President has made clear. He is unlikely to stay in that deal perhaps this May,” he added.
He said European nations must bear the necessary responsibility for their security and address threats emerging from the neighboring region.
“Russia threatens both allies and partners both militarily and through aggressive campaign to undermine western democratic institutions. In light of Russia’s unacceptable actions, NATO is more indispensable than ever,” he said.
Referring to the Salisbury incident, he said Russia’s use of nerve agent on UK territory was a reckless action. He was referring to British accusations that Russia allegedly poisoned a former spy and his daughter in the British town.
Pompeo said the US will not return to business as usual with Russia until Moscow shows a clear change in its actions and complies with international law.
He said fighting terrorism must be a major focus of NATO, adding that Alliance should work with “our partners in North Africa and the Middle East to address issues like illegal migration and regional instability.” On North Korea, he clarified that US objective remains unchanged “We are committed to permanent, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programme without delay,” he stressed.
Pompeo noted that at the Wales NATO summit in 2014, all NATO members agreed to increase their defence spending to two percent of their GDP by 2024 and called on the NATO Allies to make a credible plan on their defence spending before the NATO summit in July.
Source: Kuwait News Agency