North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said allies have started to increase spending and burden-sharing, something President Donald Trump has repeatedly demanded.
“All allies have stopped the cuts, all have started to increase and the majority of allies have put forward plans on how to meet the 2 percent, or spend 2 percent on defense, by 2024,” Stoltenberg said Thursday, speaking to NATO defense ministers in Brussels.
Trump has been pushing for all 29 members to increase their military budgets to 2 percent spending of the gross domestic product (GDP) since the NATO meeting on May 25, 2017. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also called on allies to increase their commitment in order to lessen the burden placed on the U.S., the organization’s biggest spender. (RELATED: Trump Secures 35-Percent NATO Defense Spending Increase From Macron)
“We are going in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go,” said Stoltenberg, according to a report by Defense News.
The news comes after German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged Wednesday to raise Germany’s defense budget, which is being seen as a partial yield to Trump’s demands.
Merkel told German lawmakers in Berlin that she would give a “political commitment” to increase spending to 1.5 percent of GDP by 2025 and to invest in new weapons systems, according to a report by Morningstar News.
While Merkel’s pledge still falls short of the 2 percent, it signals that Germany has been listening to the U.S., who has long found issue with the country’s low military spending, despite the size of their economy.
“I welcome the fact that Germany has stopped cuts, Germany has started to increase and also the plans to increase German defense spending by 80 percent over a decade,” added Stoltenberg.
Stoltenberg was speaking on the first day of a two-day meeting of NATO defense ministers, who are expected to make a series of decisions on the organization’s command structure and military readiness, among other things. The meeting comes just five weeks before the NATO summit in Brussels.
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