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Pompeo to talk defense budgets, Moscow with allies during NATO trip

(Xinhua)    15:13, December 04, 2018

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will press allies to meet their defense spending targets and talk about Moscow on his North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) trip, according to a statement issued by the State Department on Monday.

Pompeo will participate in the NATO foreign ministers' meetings in Brussels during Dec. 3-5, a senior State Department official told reporters anonymously en route to Brussels, according to the statement.

The United States would continue to press allies on the following commitments: 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) spent on defense and 20 percent of defense budgets invested in major equipment.

The U.S. administration has been criticizing European nations for failing to meet the official annual defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP set by NATO.

According to NATO figures, only five of 29 members have met their defense spending targets this year -- Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Britain and the United States.

Besides, NATO members will also go through a report on the bloc's southern dimension during the meeting, and update the 2017 counterterrorism plan with a heavy emphasis on intelligence sharing, according to the statement.

In Brussels, the United States would cooperate with NATO allies to counter Moscow on various issues, including the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and the recent Kerch Strait incident.

"We will be ... working with allies to chart a joint way forward in how we tackle the problem of Russian noncompliance with the INF Treaty," the senior official said.

In October, U.S. President Donald Trump said that Washington would pull out of the landmark INF Treaty signed by the Soviet Union and the United States in 1987 on account of Russia's alleged breach of the agreement, which Moscow had repeatedly denied.

Russia believes that the U.S. plan to withdraw from the treaty will have grave consequences for the world.

Washington also planned to press Moscow to release the Ukrainian crew members and ships, calling on European allies to show leadership in tackling the problem, according to the statement.

On Nov. 25, three Ukrainian ships attempting to sail through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov were seized by Russian forces. The Russian side alleged that they had violated the Russian border.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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