* NATO books first increase in defence spending vs GDP since
* European allies at 1.47 percent, still below 2-pct goal
* Trump steps up pressure on Europe to spend more
By Gabriela Baczynska
BRUSSELS, March 13 Defence spending by European
NATO states inched up in 2016 compared to the previous year,
data by the military alliance showed on Monday, but still
remained below the threshold the new U.S. President Donald Trump
said was crucial to achieve.
Trump made NATO states in Europe nervous when he criticised
the alliance as "obsolete" during election campaign and then
went on to suggest he could make U.S. commitment to their
security conditional on them meeting the alliance's target of
defence spending at two percent of their economic output.
Trump has since reaffirmed support for the security alliance
but insisted Europeans must "pay their fair share." His aides
have said Trump wants to see progress on that by the end of this
year and that Washington could otherwise "moderate" its support.
NATO said the U.S. defence spending last year stood at 3.61
percent of its Gross Domestic Product, compared to 3.58 percent
in 2015. That compares to 1.47 percent for NATO's European
allies last year and 1.44 percent the year before.
NATO's overall figure for 2016 stood at 2.43 percent versus
2.40 percent in 2015.
(Editing by Toby Chopra)