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NATO chief: US allies to spend $12 billion more this year

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NATO flags flutter during the final day of NATO Saber Strike exercises in Orzysz Poland

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced that NATO's European allies and Canada will increase defence spending by 4.3 percent - marking a cumulative $46 billion jump since cuts stopped in 2014.

"We are not planning to go back to combat operations but we are looking into the exact troop level in our train, assist, and advice mission", Stoltenberg said, adding that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies were "particularly looking into how we can train more special operation forces in Afghanistan".

"After years of decline, in 2015 we saw a real increase in defence spending across European allies and Canada. this year, we foresee an even greater real increase of 4.3 percent", he told a news conference. Romania says it will meet the 2 percent of GDP guideline this year, while Latvia and Lithuania plan to in 2018.

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Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister, recalled that the 28 allies had pledged at a 2014 summit in Wales to increase defense spending to the equivalent of two percent of annual economic output within a decade. Spending growth was 1.8 pct in 2015 and 3.3 percent past year, although it was unclear how near that takes members to the target.

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The new figures are part of a broader rise in military spending in Europe, as the United States commits billions more dollars to return troops and heavy weaponry to the continent to deter Russian Federation, and as the European Union seeks to set up a multi-billion-euro defense fund.

The House overwhelmingly passed a measure on Tuesday reaffirming the US commitment to the NATO's mutual defense clause after President Trump declined to in a speech overseas last month.

The vote was 423-4 in the House, where Trump's fellow Republicans hold a 48-seat majority, for a resolution "solemnly reaffirming" the US commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

"What we will do is to invest more in more heavier forces, more armour, more enablers like for instance air to air refuelling, air defences and also increased readiness and the preparedness of our forces so they can move more quickly". He said USA military deployments to NATO's eastern European countries will last until at least 2020 and noted that Trump's fiscal year 2018 budget request calls for a 42 percent increase for European military spending.

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