Allies have 'much work' to share burden with US: NATO chief

Even After Trump Criticism, UK Fails to Meet NATO Defence Spending Minimum Second Year Running

Even After Trump Criticism, UK Fails to Meet NATO Defence Spending Minimum Second Year Running

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday urged European allies and Canada to keep ramping up defense spending, as the alliance expands its command headquarters in response to a more assertive Russian Federation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels on Tuesday, ahead of the NATO defense ministers conference, that Afghanistan has taught the alliance the importance of strengthening local forces to fight terrorism. At NATO's 2014 summit in Wales, the leaders agreed to invest 2 percent of GDP in defense programs.

"No NATO ally has suffered more terrorist attacks than Turkey, and, of course, they have the right to address these security concerns", Stoltenberg said.

In reaction, EU officials replied that the USA defense market should be (more) accessible to European manufacturers, which is not the case as now.

Trump, who as a candidate during the 2016 presidential campaign said North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would be "obsolete" if it did not do more to combat militants, has urged the allies to act or face more attacks in European cities.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Turkish National Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli will meet US Defense Secretary James Mattis late Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in the region, particularly Syria and the ongoing operation.

Still, Stoltenberg highlighted the progress on defense spending in recent years, noting that allies have stopped their cuts and have begun gradually increasing their budgets.

"Fair burden-sharing is also crucial for our shared security", Stoltenberg said. "By 2024, 22 allies are expected to invest 20 percent or more of their defense budgets on major capabilities, which is NATO's guideline".

Stoltenberg said that in 2014, only three allies met the goal, but the number has increased to eight this year. "That's not to say that everyone's where they need to be or has plans for where they're going, and we'll discuss that". The U.S. level was 3.61 percent of GDP, followed by Greece at 2.38 percent, Britain at 2.21 percent, Estonia at 2.16 percent and Poland at 2 percent in 2017. More in detail, Katie Wheelbarger, a senior Pentagon official, said that: "Washington was supportive of Pesco as long as it's complementary to and not distracting from Nato's activities and requirements".

"We can not expect to outsource our security obligations, Europe's security, to the United States", he said.