US DoS comments on Tillerson's plans to skip NATO meeting
The United States remains fully committed to the NATO alliance despite Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s plans not to attend next month's meeting, Department of State acting spokesperson Mark Toner said on Tuesday, Sputnik reported.
On Monday, the State Department announced Tillerson would not attend the NATO meeting in Brussels on April 5-6. A US State Department spokesperson also said that Tillerson plans to visit Russia in April. No specific date has been provided.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has also declined to comment on the upcoming visit, but unconfirmed reports say that America's top diplomat could come to Moscow on April 12. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to speak about the trip pending an official US announcement. If the dates are confirmed, Tillerson’s Russia trip will come on the heels of a G7 meeting in Italy.
"The United States remains 100 percent committed to NATO," Toner told reporters when asked if Tillerson’s lack of attendance indicated wavering support.
The US Department of State has offered alternative dates for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s attendance at the NATO ministerial next month, Toner said.
"We have gone back with alternative dates," Toner told reporters when asked about the meeting.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump called NATO "obsolete." He also accused European members of the alliance of not sharing US' burden concerning defense spending. He called for boosting the spending in 2017.