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Minister: Defence spending to be raised gradually

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Prague, July 12 (CTK) – The defence spending of the Czech Republic must be growing gradually and it will reach the target of 2 percent of GDP in 2024, Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar (ANO) told journalists on Thursday.

He reacted to the outcome of the NATO summit and the appeal of U.S. President Donald Trump that the allies should increase their defence expenditures to 2 percent as of next January.

The summit has shown unity of the alliance, Metnar said.

“The summit has showed that the north-Atlantic alliance remains solid and united,” he said after the meeting.

The Czech Republic was represented by President Milos Zeman, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO), Foreign Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) and Deputy Foreign Minister Jakub Landovsky.

“The alliance comes out from the summit strengthened and united, which is important before the meeting of Trump and (Vladimir) Putin,” Landovsky said.

During the summit, Trump several times called on the NATO allies to increase their defence budgets. They should eventually reach 4 percent of the GDP, while they should already be 2 percent by January 2019.

Metnar said that “the Czech Republic’s defence spending must be increasing gradually.”

The Czech Republic will reach the 2 percent proportion of the GDP in 2024.

“The U.S. pressure on a more just sharing of defence spending is already bringing some results. It is good that all NATO members realise the importance of the rise in defence spending, which they have repeatedly and voluntarily pledged to do,” Landovsky said.

Metnar said along with the continuing mission in Afghanistan, where the Czech Republic would increase the number of its troops from 250 up to 390, it was also agreed to start an allied training and consultancy mission in Iraq.

“The Czech Republic is now declaring its readiness to join it actively. We already have 50 troops in Iraq and there is the planned rise to 110,” Metnar said.

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