By Paul Carrel
BERLIN (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday NATO must grow and change or risk becoming obsolete, a day after French President Emmanuel Macron said the alliance was dying.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected Macron's comments, in an interview with British weekly The Economist, as "drastic" and Pompeo said on Thursday the alliance was perhaps one of the most important "in all recorded history".
But he acknowledged the need for NATO to evolve in a question-and-answer session after delivering a speech in Berlin on Friday, one day before the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
"Seventy years on ... it (NATO) needs to grow and change," he replied. "It needs to confront the realities of today and the challenges of today."
"If nations believe that they can get the security benefit without providing NATO the resources that it needs, if they don't live up to their commitments, there is a risk that NATO could become ineffective or obsolete," he said.
NATO was founded in 1949 to provide collective security against the Soviet Union and is preparing for a summit in London on Dec. 4.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wants to project an image of unity when Chinese military might is growing and Russia is accused of trying to undermine Western democracies through cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and covert operations.
CRITICISM OF CHINA, RUSSIA, IRAN
In his speech, Pompeo criticised Russia's treatment of political foes and said China used methods against its people that would be "horrifyingly familiar to former East Germans."
Reflecting on the lessons learnt from the Wall coming down, he said "the West - all of us - lost our way in the afterglow of that proud moment."
"We thought we could divert our resources away from alliances, and our militaries. We were wrong," he said. "Today, Russia – led by a former KGB officer once stationed in Dresden ‒ invades its neighbours and slays political opponents."
Europe's energy supplies should not depend on Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said.
Pompeo said it would be irrational to consider Russia a "worthy partner" in the Middle East though Washington wanted other countries' help put pressure on Iran to resume negotiations over its nuclear programme and to "cut off its ability to fund terrorist proxies".
Pompeo said the Chinese Communist Party was "shaping a new vision of authoritarianism" and warned Germany about using Chinese telecom equipment vendor Huawei Technologies <HWT.UL> to build its fifth-generation data network (5G).
In Beijing, China's Foreign Ministry criticised Pompeo over earlier comments about the Chinese Communist Party, saying those remarks had been "extremely dangerous" and exposed his "sinister intentions".
(Editing by Thomas Escritt and Timothy Heritage)