January 23, 2017 / 11:31 PM / 3 years ago

Mattis speaks with NATO chief, highlighting importance of alliance

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General and defense secretary-nominee James Mattis speaks with a Marine guard before the Inaugural parade in Washington, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S Secretary of Defense James Mattis, on his first full day in office, spoke with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to highlight the importance he places on the military alliance, a Pentagon spokesman said on Monday.

President Donald Trump has said that while the military alliance was still very important to him, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was nonetheless obsolete because it had not defended against terror attacks.

Trump added in a recent interview with The Times of London that many NATO members were not paying their fair share for U.S. protection.

“The two leaders discussed the importance of our shared values, and the secretary emphasized that when looking for allies to help defend these values, the United States always starts with Europe,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in a statement regarding the call.

“Both pledged to consult in the months to come and look forward to meeting in person during the NATO Defense Ministerial in February,” Davis said.

The Pentagon said Mattis also spoke with his counterparts from Britain and Canada.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Chris Reese and Alan Crosby

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