BRUSSELS Feb 14 NATO's European allies and
Canada increased defence spending by 3.8 percent last year,
amounting to around $10 billion more than 2015, NATO
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday as the
alliance tries to end years of cuts.
U.S. President Donald Trump has sharply criticised European
defence spending, saying this month that NATO members must make
"their full and proper financial contributions", although last
year's rise is a broader response to Russia's 2014 annexation of
Crimea and concerns about Islamist militancy.
"We are making a significant step forward but we have a long
way to go ... it is not enough," Stoltenberg told a news
conference, saying Trump had stressed the need for more defence
spending in the two phone calls the two men have held.
Stoltenberg said Latvia, Lithuania and Romania are moving
towards the NATO goal of spending at least 2 percent of economic
output on defence. Germany is also increasing spending.
However, in 2015 only Britain, Poland, Greece and Estonia
met the 2 percent NATO spending goal.
"The picture is still mixed, some allies are still really
struggling," Stoltenberg said when asked about budget
constraints in Italy, which is trying to reduce its budget
deficit following the euro zone crisis.
Stoltenberg, who will meet Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov later this week at the Munich Security Conference, said
he expected Europe's defence spending to be one of the main
topics at a NATO summit in May in Brussels with Trump.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Janet Lawrence)