Tillerson's presence at NATO meeting shows our unity, claims secretary general

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has rescheduled a meeting to allow the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to attend, downplaying concerns of a tense relationship.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the presence of the U.S. representative shows the "strong" ties between the 28 allies and how important the organization is for the American administration.

"It became obvious that (date) didn't work for Secretary Tillerson," Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.

The former Norwegian premier said that the decision to move the meeting is "a sign of the strong transatlantic unity and (the) flexibility" of the alliance.

Having Tillerson in Brussels also sends "a clear signal" about "the importance that the United States attaches to security guarantees for Europe and to NATO," Stoltenberg added.

The meeting that now takes place Friday, March 31st was originally scheduled for April 5th; however, that date clashed with Tillerson's meeting with the Chinese leadership.

NATO's relationship with the U.S. has been somewhat tense of late after President Donald Trump said the alliance was "obsolete."

U.S. representatives have repeatedly called on NATO members to raise their contributions to the alliance and comply with the 2 percent of GDP commitment. At the moment only five of NATO nations meet that target, including the U.S.

The issue of contributions to the NATO budget has strained relations between the U.S. and Germany. Following a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Donald Trump said on Twitter: "I had a great meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!."

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