NATO chief: US allies to spend $12 billion more this year

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a news conference on Wednesday ahead of the NATO Defense Ministers' meeting on Thursday.

"After years of decline, in 2015 we saw a real increase in defense spending across European allies and Canada ... this year, we foresee an even greater real increase of 4.3 percent".

On the issue of defense spending, he stated this was set to rise by 4.3 percent, excluding the U.S, this year.

"This means, over the last three years, European Allies and Canada spent nearly 46 billion United States dollars more on defense". Early in May, three UH-60L Black Hawk US helicopters and 50 staff arrived at an air base in central-west Poland.

Stoltenberg added the ministerial would close with a meeting on Afghanistan "where our Resolute Support Mission helps ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for global terrorism". Within the first year only the U.S., Great Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia hit the spending target. "This year, we expect Romania to join them and in 2018, Latvia and Lithuania will spend 2% of GDP on defense as well", he added.

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He said the turnaround in spending came in 2015, predating United States leader Donald Trump's call for European Union allies to do more.

The NATO chief said five allied nations had met their defence spending targets the previous year - now two per cent of gross domestic product - and expected Romania, Latvia and Lithuania to achieve the same by 2018.

"The U.S. commitment to our NATO Article Five security guarantee is ironclad, as demonstrated over decades of our steadfastness and given voice more recently by President Trump before the American people", Mattis said. Instead, he used a speech there to demand that member states pay more for the alliance's defense.

"We are not planning to go back to combat operations but we are looking into the exact troop level in our train, assist, and advice mission", Stoltenberg said, adding that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies were "particularly looking into how we can train more special operation forces in Afghanistan".

The House has overwhelmingly approved a resolution reaffirming the US commitment to NATO's mutual defense pact. "European allies should invest more in defense not only to please the United States, but they should invest more in defense because it is in their own interests".

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