Tillerson onboard: NATO summit in Brussels

Tillerson onboard: NATO summit in Brussels

After some scheduling trouble, NATO foreign ministers will meet on Thursday, welcoming US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the

Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

After some scheduling trouble, NATO foreign ministers will meet on Thursday, welcoming US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for the first time.

Tillerson’s attendance is vital; the US is the de facto leader of NATO, spending more on defence than all other members combined. Donald Trump has heavily criticised this imbalance, calling the alliance “obsolete”. While he’s since softened his tone and reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to NATO, Mr Trump has made it clear that he expects all alliance members to spend the agreed-upon 2% of GDP on defence.

Another contentious issue is Montenegro’s planned accession to NATO. On Tuesday, the US Senate supported the country’s bid with an overwhelming majority. NATO is moving fast on the issue, with Spain the only remaining member yet to ratify the accession. However, Montenegro is deeply divided on the issue, with recent polls suggesting a slight majority against NATO membership.

Dig deeper: NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence plan: cool war?