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Trump Says Increased Payments Will Make NATO Stronger

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the start of NATO summit in Brussels on May 25, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump said on May 27 that NATO will be stronger because member countries have increased their payments to the alliance “considerably.”

"Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in -- NATO will be much stronger,” Trump tweeted from Sicily, where he is meeting leaders from the Group of Seven (G7) nations.

The announcement comes two days after he scolded NATO members for not spending enough money on defense.

NATO countries do not pay the U.S. or NATO directly. They spend domestically on weapons or other defense-related needs.

Trump has encouraged members to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. So far only five members meet the target. Other nations have committed to the goal by 2024.

A day earlier, on May 26, Russia's ambassador to NATO decried the alliance's plans to increase military spending, saying the U.S. defense industry will be the prime beneficiary as European nations purchase more arms.

In urging NATO allies to increase defense spending, Trump and other U.S. officials have stressed the need to combat terrorism, a goal Russia says it shares.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP