'NATO summit to agree on increased defence expenditure plan'

Indo Asian News Service

Brussels, March 31 (IANS) NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday said he was confident the alliance's leadership would adopt a decision on plans to increase military expenditure at a summit in Brussels in May.

NATO foreign ministers will meet for the first time at the organisation's headquarters on Friday with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who would stress the need for Canada and its European partners to increase their defence expenditure, Efe news reported.

Stoltenberg said an increase in defence spending had nothing to do with "pleasing the US", but was a commitment assumed in 2014 when the allies sat around the same table and decided to "stop the cuts in defence spending, gradual increase and raise the expenditure up to 2 per cent of the GNP within a decade."

"I expect national plans to be an important topic to be discussed," Stoltenberg said, adding that "the idea of developing national plans for all NATO allies is something we have started to look into."

He said the plan was to make decisions "when the heads of state and leaders meet in May".

Stoltenberg said the plans were about capabilities and how NATO was going to "fill in the capability gaps", and how allies could commit resources to NATO missions and operations.

He said it was "important" to have a document on how to apply these commitments.

"This is about more funding, but it is not just about cash. It is also about investing in the capabilities we need and committing forces to NATO deployments," he said.

Stoltenberg added that the US was investing additional resources in deploying more US forces in Europe.