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NATO allies must all meet spending requirements, says Stoltenberg

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NATO allies must all meet spending requirements, says Stoltenberg
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NATO Secretary-General has urged members of the military alliance to collectively fund more of its work.

Jens Stoltenberg has said that allies should spend more on total funding defence "together", following a meeting of the organisation's defence ministers Wednesday.

"Different US Administrations, Republican and Democrat, have all conveyed the same message that we need fair burden-sharing in this Alliance," the Secretary-General told reporters.

"I tell the Europeans and they agree that we need to invest more in defence, not to please the United States, but because it's in our security interests to invest more."

Stoltenberg's opinion was echoed by the new US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, who on the eve of the meeting wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post saying that NATO defence "requires all of us to invest".

So far, only eight members of the military alliance have reached the target of two per cent of GDP on defence spending, including Britain, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania - a target that Donald Trump hammered home during his presidency.

NATO defence ministers also dealt with the question of how long to maintain a presence in Afghanistan, after a May 1 withdrawal deadline was set out last year in a peace deal between the US and Taliban leadership.

However, the Secretary-General told reporters that any removal of troops would be "conditions-based".

"There is a May 1st deadline, but the promise to leave Afghanistan is conditions-based. Our presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based. What NATO does now is we, first of all, do whatever we can to support a peace process and the full implementation of the deal. We will only leave when the time is right," Stoltenberg explained.

The meeting will continue Thursday, where NATO ministers are also expected to agree to launch an expanded mission in Iraq.