NATO chief hails Portugal as "key ally" but calls for increased spending

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-27 05:40:38|Editor: Lifang
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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) meets with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa at Sao Bento Palace in Lisbon, Portugal, Jan. 26, 2018. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)

LISBON, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) -- The secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, hailed Portugal as a "key ally" in a visit to Lisbon on Friday while calling for increased spending on defense.

"It is a great honour to be here because Portugal is such a key ally in our alliance," Stoltenberg told a press conference here following a meeting with Portugal's Minister of Defense Azeredo Lopes.

"I welcome that Portugal has stopped the cuts in defense spending and also that we have started to increase," he added. "But I also expect that you will continue because we need more investments from many NATO Allies to make sure that we are delivering on the promise and the pledge we made back in 2014."

At a NATO Summit held in Wales in 2014 member countries pledged to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.

"Portugal makes NATO more secure -- on land, at sea, in the air and also in cyberspace," Stoltenberg continued.

He had earlier visited the construction site in Oeiras, on the outskirts of Lisbon, where a new cyber-defense training center will open in late 2019. The center, known as NATO's Integrated Communications (NIC) Academy, "just strengthens the position of Portugal as a key ally in our alliance," said Stoltenberg.

Stoltenberg also visited NATO's Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) and its naval command center.

The secretary general also met with the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and, separately, with the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa.

In conclusion, Stoltenberg said it had been "an excellent day here in Lisbon, where we have had many important discussions and where we have addressed how we together, as an alliance, can continue to respond and adapt to a new and more demanding security environment."

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KEY WORDS: Portugal