NATO’s chief says allies are spending more on defense

BRUSSELS (AP) — NATO’s chief says European members and Canada spent a total of almost 5 percent more on defense last year compared to 2016, amid pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump to boost military budgets.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that eight allies are likely to spend the target NATO benchmark of 2 percent of their GDP on defense this year. Five nations were doing so — the U.S., Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland — but new estimates show Poland has dipped under.

The benchmark concerns how much each country spends on its own defense, not what it pays into NATO.

NATO’s 29 allies invested more than $900 billion on defense in 2017, with U.S. spending accounting for two-thirds of that.

Germany increased spending by 6 percent last year.

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