Britain’s Defence Secretary has vowed to ensure the UK enjoys a “deep and enduring partnership” with his now confirmed American counterpart, despite growing fears among the global community.
General James “Mad Dog” Mattis has now been confirmed by the Senate as Trump’s defence secretary and Sir Michael drew attention to his experience as a former Nato commander as he congratulated him on taking up his post.
It comes after Trump again raised concerns about his commitment to Nato at a time when Russia is showing increasing aggression.
In his inauguration speech on Friday, the new president complained that the US had “subsidised the armies of other countries” and “defended other nations’ borders while refusing to defend our own”.
Retired government officials in Pakistan expressed concern to the Associated Press that Trump would target the Islamic world, particularly Pakistan, because of his campaign rhetoric about Muslims as well as his inaugural speech in which he promised to eradicate Islamic terrorism worldwide.
“Likely there is more trouble in store for the Islamic world and our country will take the most brunt of the harsh treatment from President Trump administration,” said Mohammad Afzal.
Meanwhile in Japan, Tokyo residents said they were worried that Trump’s “America first” policy will usher in an era of populism and protectionism at the expense of the rest of the world.
“Japan-U.S. relations are not just about security. Our good relations rely so much on trade,” Kuninobu Inoue said.
And a Chinese state-run nationalist tabloid, the Global Times, says President Trump’s inauguration speech indicates that the U.S. and China would inevitably face trade tensions.
The newspaper said in a Saturday commentary following Trump’s inauguration that “dramatic changes” lay ahead for the U.S. and the global economic order.
“Undoubtedly, the Trump administration will be igniting many ‘fires’ on its front door and around the world. Let’s wait and see when it will be China’s turn,” it said.
Baltic nations, which fear Russian incursion as Vladimir Putin masses troops on their borders, will hope Trump was simply urging other Nato members to boost their defence spending rather than signalling a desire to leave the alliance of mutual protection.
Sir Michael and Gen Mattis will be speaking at the earliest possible opportunity and have already exchanged welcome letters.
They are both are due to attend a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Brussels in February, the Press Association reported.
Sir Michael said: “I congratulate James Mattis on his confirmation as US Defence Secretary.
“With his experience as a former Nato commander, having also served alongside British forces, I look forward to working with him to build on our deep and enduring defence partnership.
‘The US is and will remain our closest defence and security partner.
“Secretary Mattis and I will be working hard to ensure that both our countries remain equipped and ready to play our part in confronting the threats we face and deterring aggression.”