James Mattis, the new US defence secretary, has said the US commitment to Nato’s mutual defence clause “remains rock solid” under the Trump administration.

A day after he warned allies that the US will “moderate” its commitment to Nato if they do not intensify their defence expenditure, retired general Mattis said his intention in talks with defence ministers was to offer “full US commitment” to the organisation.

Gen Mattis declined to specify how Washington might moderate its support, saying “that is the headline I do not anticipate seeing” because he was confident that allies will increase defence spending.

Asked whether he believed Russia had interfered in the US election, he said only that “there is very little doubt that they have interfered or attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.”

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