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US pits Paris against London in NATO spending row

MARJAH, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Corporal Mark Hickok, a 23-year-old combat engineer from North Olmstead, Ohio, patrols through a field during a clearing mission April 9. Marines with Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, learned basic route clearance techniques from engineers like Hickok, who are deployed with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John M. McCall)
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The US has issued a warning to the United Kingdom that France can become its main partner in NATO if London does not increase its military spending in the alliance, according to The Sun newspaper.

According to the newspaper, Washington is concerned about the reduction of the United Kingdom’s military and political power, Secretary of Defense James Mattis wrote in a letter to British colleague Gavin Williamson.

In a June 12 letter to The Sun, Mattis stated: “A global nation like the United Kingdom, with interests and commitments all over the world, requires a higher level of military expenditure than we would expect from our allies.”

In this context, Mattis expressed the hope that the United Kingdom would soon be able to share with the US “a clear and well-funded defense plan that would allow me to plan future cooperation with the country from a position of strength and confidence”, adding that otherwise the special relations between the two countries could deteriorate.

The Pentagon chief also clarified that while the United Kingdom may want to “continue to be the US’s elected partner,” France is already raising military spending by being ready to replace the UK in that respect.

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“As global players, France and the US have concluded that now is the time to significantly increase our investment in defense. Other allies are following suit.”

Washington is counting on the British government to allocate more resources to military needs. Currently, London, according to the standard established by the alliance, allocates to these needs two percent of GDP.

Earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to inject an additional 260 billion euros in the defense budget by 2025.

The issue of military spending will be on the agenda of the NATO summit scheduled for July 11 in Brussels. However, with a health and housing crisis in the United Kingdom, it is unlikely that the majority of British people will want further spending on its military.

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