NATO official wants Portugal to spend more on defense

NATO's second-highest official has rebuked Portugal over its defense spending in a speech at a defense conference.

Alexander Vershbow, the alliance's Deputy Secretary-General, says Portuguese investment in modern equipment last year was 8.7 percent of overall defense spending. He says the NATO guideline is 20 percent.

Vershbow also noted that Portugal's defense spending in 2015 was 1.33 percent of gross domestic product — below NATO's commitment to 2 percent, though slightly up on 2014. He says only five member countries meet the 2 percent target.

Portugal went into a three-year recession in 2011, almost going bankrupt during the eurozone debt crisis. It needed a 78 billion-euro ($88.8 billion) bailout, which required the government to cut spending.

Vershbow was speaking Thursday at a defense conference at the parliament in Lisbon.