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NATO Chief Urges Countries to Keep Up with Defense Spending

  • VOA News

FILE - NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a news conference ahead of a NATO defence ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 14, 2017.

A NATO top official told European allies Monday to increase spending on military funds, as requested by U.S. President Donald Trump, if they expect to keep important foreign alliances.

NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said it was "essential for the continued strength of the transatlantic bond on which our alliance is founded."

"For almost 70 years the unique partnership between Europe and North America has ensured peace and prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. ...That is an achievement we can never take for granted," Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg told reporters, as he released his annual report on the world's biggest military alliance, that countries still do not have fair burden sharing within the alliance.

The U.S., Britain, Estonia, debt-plagued Greece and Poland were the only nations that met the target of spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

"All allies should reach this goal. All allies have agreed to do it at the highest level,'' he said, referring to an agreement by presidents and prime ministers in 2014.

In 2016, defense spending within the U.S.-led alliance rose 3.8 percent or $10 billion (9.3 billion euros), according to findings — reversing the downturn in 2015 and last year.

FILE - A German army soldier walks past Marder infantry fighting vehicles at the railway station in Sestokai, Lithuania, Feb. 24, 2017.
FILE - A German army soldier walks past Marder infantry fighting vehicles at the railway station in Sestokai, Lithuania, Feb. 24, 2017.



"In 2017, we must redouble our efforts to sustain the positive momentum and speed up national efforts to keep our pledge," Stoltenberg said.

During the presidential election campaign, Trump said he would not defend allies who fail to meet the target, causing unease among the 28-nation military alliance, especially nations bordering Russia.

In his recent speech to the U.S. Congress, Trump said following "very strong and frank discussions," NATO members are stepping up their contributions."I can tell you the money is pouring in," Trump said, though he did not elaborate.

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