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Nato chief: Spain is a 'staunch ally'

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Nato chief: Spain is a 'staunch ally'
NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg meets with Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo. Photo: DPA
16:54 CET+01:00
Nato Security General Jens Stoltenberg met with Spanish leaders on Thursday, praising Spain's Nato support and emphasizing the number of global threats that still need to be addressed.

Stoltenberg praised Spain for its role in Nato missions, including its "major role in building security in Afghanistan". He also mentioned that Spain will host one of the alliance's biggest exercises this year with an expected 25,000 troops.

Much of Stoltenberg's focus was on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, as well as those in Syria and Iraq against extremist Islamic State fighters. Stoltenberg said at a news conference the previous day that Russia is still arming amid a ceasefire agreement and in Madrid called on all Nato parties to help monitor the withdrawal of troops.

"We cannot take our security for granted," he said. "Security is the basis of everything we have: our prosperity, our values, our open societies."

Stoltenberg's comments come at a time when Nato is pushing all members to increase military funding. The alliance's goal is that all members dedicate at least two percent of their GDP to defence spending.

Spain spent last year about €5.7 billion ($6billion), or 0.4 percent of GDP, and plans to increase that number by €32 million this year.
 
The alliance plans to increase the size of their response forces by nearly double, from 13,000 to 30,000 troops. They also plan to add a 5,000-person 'quick reaction' spearhead force and in 2016, Spain will be the first to lead the force.
 
Stoltenberg called Spain "a strong signal of Nato solidarity" and evidence that "Europeans are taking responsibility for their own security."
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