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Global Military Spending Rises for First Time Since 2011

FILE - An aircraft lands after missions targeting the Islamic State group in Iraq from the deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 10, 2014.

Military spending around the world has increased for the first time since 2011, according to new data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Total world military spending was $1.7 trillion for 2015, an increase of 1 percent over 2014.

The Asia-Pacific region was largely responsible for the rise, with countries averaging a 5.4 percent increase in military expenditures. Heightening tensions between China and others in the region sparked "substantial" spending increases by Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, SIPRI reported. The situation also caused Japan to reverse its long-term downward trend in military spending.

Central European nations Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia increased military spending 13 percent because of concerns about Russian aggression in Ukraine, SIPRI said.

The U.S. was still the largest military spender at $596 billion, SIPRI said. While U.S. military spending decreased from 2014 to 2015, it did so at a slower rate of decline, 2.4 percent, than past years.

The second-largest spender was China. Beijing's figure for 2015 rose 7.4 percent to $215 billion. Saudi Arabia came in third, spending $87 billion, and Russia was fourth, spending $66 billion on its military.

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    Carla Babb

    Carla is VOA's Pentagon correspondent covering defense and international security issues. Her datelines include Ukraine, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Korea.

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