NATO chief acknowledges Italy for boosting defense spending

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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.