NATO chief acknowledges Italy for boosting defense spending

Just days after President Donald Trump said he had joked with Italy's prime minister about increasing defense spending, the head of NATO is acknowledging that Italy has kept a commitment to do just that.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a joint press conference with Premier Paolo Gentiloni in Rome on Thursday that "I welcome that Italy has increased its defense spending last year, and we are following up on a pledge you made in 2014 to stop the cuts."

Italy last year spent $21.9 billion on defense, or about 1.1 percent of its GDP and up from $19.5 billion in 2015. It spent $24.5 billion in 2014, when NATO set a target of 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

Gentiloni met with Trump last week in Washington.