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Donald Trump pushes NATO allies to double their defence spending

Click to play video: 'NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says defence spending to go up' NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says defence spending to go up
ABOVE: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says defence spending to go up – Jul 11, 2018

BRUSSELS – U.S. President Donald Trump told NATO leaders on Wednesday they should increase their defense spending to 4 per cent of their country’s economic output, double the group’s current goal of two percent.

NATO allies shrugged off the demand as part and parcel of Trump’s brash push for allies to spend more on their own defense at a summit in Brussels, with a quip from the alliance’s chief that it should aim to meet its goal before reaching further.

READ MORE: Donald Trump says Germany is ‘captive to Russia’, blasts NATO defence spending

“We should first get to 2 pct,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, adding that eight of the 29 allies were meeting that target, while others had a plan to do – turning a leaf on years of defense budget cuts.

Striking a strident tone at the summit, Trump’s aspirational target of 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) was above the United States own spending on defense.

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WATCH: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on NATO forces in Iraq
Click to play video: 'Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on NATO forces in Iraq' Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on NATO forces in Iraq
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on NATO forces in Iraq – Jul 11, 2018

The United States, the world’s biggest military power, spent some 3.57 per cent on defense last year, according to NATO figures.

WATCH: Democrats, Republicans split on Trump’s talk at NATO summit

Click to play video: 'Democrats, Republicans split on Trump’s talk at NATO summit' Democrats, Republicans split on Trump’s talk at NATO summit
Democrats, Republicans split on Trump’s talk at NATO summit – Jul 11, 2018

A White House spokeswoman said his remarks came as he was urging leaders to increase their outlays on defense and were not a formal proposal.

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“He suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of 2 per cent of their GDP on defense spending, but that they increase it to 4 per cent,” Sarah Sanders told reporters.

“Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations.”

WATCH: Jens Stoltenberg updates on first working meeting of NATO summit
Click to play video: 'Jens Stoltenberg updates on first working meeting of NATO summit' Jens Stoltenberg updates on first working meeting of NATO summit
Jens Stoltenberg updates on first working meeting of NATO summit – Jul 11, 2018

A source close to French President Emmanuel Macron also played down Trump’s words as rhetoric, saying “it is not a new demand.”

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