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

"We exercise more, we share best practices and technology and we also work more and more closely with all allies", he told reporters ahead of a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation defense ministers meeting in Brussels on Thursday at which cyber security will be a key talking point.

USA media report that the Trump's administration is weighing sending another 3,000 to 5,000 troops to Afghanistan in order to break what Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has called a "stalemate" between government forces and the Taliban.

Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, recalled that the 28 allies had pledged at a 2014 summit in Wales to increase defense spending to the equivalent of two percent of annual economic output within a decade. Romania says it will meet the 2 percent of GDP guideline this year, while Latvia and Lithuania plan to in 2018. New U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed the alliance as obsolete during his campaign, before concluding earlier this year that it was "no longer obsolete" despite no major changes of focus.

The spending increase announced Wednesday is $12 billion more than 2016 levels, and the increases are also growing bigger - 2016 spending was 3.3 percent higher than 2015 levels. "In 2016, this continued and this year, in 2017, we foresee an even greater annual real increase of 4.3%", the NATO chief told reporters in Brussels ahead of the meeting of NATO Defense Ministers on Thursday. He said USA military deployments to NATO's eastern European countries will last until at least 2020 and noted that Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget request calls for a 42 percent increase for European military spending. Numerous 2017 spending decisions that together form the increase announced Wednesday were made before Trump's improbable November victory.

"I have strongly stressed or underlined that 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 and because they have participated in decisions and committed to increase defense spending", Stoltenberg said.

"We need to have a fair burden sharing in Europe", von der Leyen said, speaking alongside Mattis in Germany.

"Compared to the tens of thousands of Russian troops we see on the other side of the border I think it's obvious what we do in the Baltic countries and Poland is a defensive and proportionate response", he said.

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