James Mattis has been selected as the new defence secretary
The President has been hugely critical of the 28-national alliance, branding it “obsolete” in an interview with European newspapers before his inauguration.
He also warned NATO had “problems” – and complained many countries “aren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay”.
However following his election to the White House, Donald Trump selected James Mattis as his new defence secretary – who has voiced a very different view on NATO.
The retired Marine Corps general, whose nickname is “Mad Dog", previously called NATO “the most successful military alliance in modern world history.”
James Mattis previously voiced a very different view on NATO to Trump
He also said: “If we did not have NATO today, we would have to create it.”
And on day one of the new job, the former military boss made sure to reaffirm his commitment to the alliance in a series of phone calls with allies across the globe.
In a gesture of goodwill that is likely raise the spirits of officials in Brussels – and dampen their concerns – Mr Mattiss spoke to NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenburg to discuss increased military spending and plans to step up counter-terrorism efforts.
NATO: Things you need to know
Tue, January 24, 2017
NATO – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4th April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defence in response to an attack by any external party.
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One of the world’s major international institutions. It is a political and military Alliance of 28 member countries from Europe and North America. Photo shows: View of leaders of NATO, 1960.
If we did not have NATO today, we would have to create it.
Defence secretary James Mattis
In a statement, Mr Stoltenburg said: “I had an excellent discussion with Secretary Mattis today — a strong friend of NATO at the Pentagon.
“Secretary Mattis knows the Alliance’s value well, having been NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.
“I look forward to welcoming him back to the NATO family, and to seeing him at our next meeting of defence ministers in February.”
Jens Stoltenburg said he looked forward to welcoming Mattis to NATO
Stoltenburg and Mattis discussed increased military spending
And Mr Mattis thanked Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan for his participation in alliances with the United States, including NATO.
The defence secretary also called his British counterpart Michael Fallon, in which he “emphasised the United States’ unshakeable commitment to Nato”, according to Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.
During the call, he also said “the United States and the United Kingdom will always enjoy a uniquely close relationship, reflected in our defence ties which are a bedrock of US security”.
Trump previously called NATO 'obsolete'
In an interview last week, Mr Trump said of NATO: "I said a long time ago that NATO had problems.
"Number one, it was obsolete, because it was designed many, many years ago.
"Number two, the countries weren't paying what they're supposed to pay.
"So we're supposed to protect countries but a lot of these countries aren't paying what they're supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the US."
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The comments come as Prime Minister Theresa May prepares for her visit to Washington on Friday, where she will become the first foreign leader to meet with the new President.
According to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Mr Trump was “excited” about meeting the prime minister and would have a “great conversation” about the potential for trade with the UK.
Mr Spicer added: “I think we have always had that special relationship with Britain and that reflects in the prime minister’s first visit here.
“He’s had a great conversation with her and he looks forward to having her here but we can always be closer.”