NATO's chief says allies are spending more on defense

NATO's chief says allies are spending more on defense
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a presentation of the NATO annual report at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, March 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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 billion on defense in 2017, with U.S. spending accounting for two-thirds of that.

Germany increased spending by 6 percent last year.