These three things will change the world today.
US defence secretary James Mattis heads his first Nato meeting
US president Donald Trump’s new defence secretary James Mattis will lead his first Nato meeting today. The European partners in the treaty are seeking reassurance from the US that it is committed to the trans-Atlantic cooperation.
Trump has described Nato as obsolete in the past and criticised Europe for not pulling its weight, particularly as the US accounts for around 70 percent of the alliance’s overall defence expenditure.
When the defence ministers from the alliance’s 27 countries meet today, it is expected that the European countries will restate their pledge to invest two percent of GDP on defence by 2024. However, it is unlikely this date will be brought forward.
Terrorism is also on the table today, as the ministers will gather to discuss how and whether to step up Nato’s role in fighting terrorism.
EU’s finance commissioner in debt talks with Greece
The European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, Pierre Moscovici, is on his way to Athens to help close a review of Greek reforms.
There have been months of failed talks between Athens and its Eurozone and International Monetary Fund creditors, raising fears of a new debt crisis that could jeopardise Greece’s place in the euro.
Moscovici told reporters in Brussels:
“Intensive meetings are taking place and I myself will visit Athens on Wednesday.”
The Greek government faces debt repayments of $7.44bn this summer that it cannot afford without completing the current review of its rescue which would unblock new loans from the country’s €86bn bailout.
Central to the row is whether Greece can deliver on budget targets. The IMF is pushing Greece to cut pensions and implement tax hikes to make this happen, however the government refuses to make more reforms.
The country’s central bank chief Yannis Stournaras has warned that a quick resolution is necessary to avoid the chaos of 2015 when Greece defaulted.
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President Trump hosting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu
US president Trump is to host Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu at the White House today, their first meeting since the inauguration.
This meeting will shape Middle East policy over the next four years and the war in Syria, the Iran nuclear file and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are all on the table for discussion.
Netanyahu had a rather fraught relationship with Obama, so this will be an opportunity for him to reset ties with the US. Trump and Israel’s prime minister have known each other for years, and a senior Israeli official described Trump as Israel’s “true friend in the White House”, after Trump’s inauguration.
During his presidential election campaign, Trump positioned himself as pro-Israel, pledging to move the U.S embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and stating he would not put pressure on Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians.
This stance has since waned. The president appears to have put the embassy move on the backburner for now, so it will be interesting to see what the outcomes of today’s talks are.