Germany and France are launching a number of new defense initiatives amid criticism from the Trump administration about a lack of defense spending from NATO allies.
Germany will set up a joint fleet of Lockheed Martin Corp C-130J transport planes with France and join a Dutch-led fleet of Airbus A330 tanker planes, the country’s defense ministry said Monday, according to Reuters. Other initiatives with Norway, Romania and the Czech Republic will be announced at a Brussels meeting with NATO defense ministers this week.
German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen met with her U.S. counterpart, Jim Mattis, at the Pentagon Friday. Mattis stressed that NATO partners need to meet the “fair demand” to increase their defense spending and meet the 2 percent of GDP requirement.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said America’s allies in Europe and Canada raised their defense spending by $10 billion in 2016. The 3.8 percent increase is bigger than what officials initially anticipated.
“The most important thing is we increase defense spending, and that is exactly what we are doing,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday. “It is an important step. But it is not enough. We have to do more.”
The issue is expected to be a top concern at the meeting in Brussels. Allies are eagerly anticipating news on where the Trump administration stands on a number of issues, including how the alliance should counter terrorism.
“We will be waiting to hear what Gen. Mattis will tell us,” an unnamed Western diplomat told The Wall Street Journal. “We have had several weeks of mixed signals and I hope we get clarity.”
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