NATO to aid surveillance of Islamic State

WARSAW, Poland, July 4 (UPI) — The secretary general of NATO, outlining the goals of an upcoming meeting in Warsaw, said Monday he expects leaders to approve the use of the alliance’s surveillance planes in the ongoing fight against the Islamic State.

Jens Stoltenberg also expects the convened allies, on July 8 and 9, to discuss NATO’s evolving role in the Central Mediterranean, specifically regarding the refugee and immigration crisis.

NATO is also expected to approve an increase in defense spending to the tune of $8 billion.

“Twenty-two allies will increase defense spending in real terms, moreover 18 allies will increase defense expenditures devoted to major equipment and research and development,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

The allies will also discuss growing tensions with Russia. NATO has been critical of Russia’s role in the political and military unrest in Ukraine, as well as its annexation of Crimea. Russia has voiced its concerns over NATO’s planned missile defense system.

“We remain open to dialogue with Russia,” Stoltenberg said during his press conference. “The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and increase predictability.”

“That is why we are talking with Russia to hold another meeting of the Council shortly after the Warsaw Summit,” he added. “Where transparency and risk reduction should be an important topic.”

The leaders of the 28 NATO nations, including President Barack Obama, will be attendance.

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