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The Latest: Poland ready to boost military help in Mideast

Associated Press logo Associated Press 25/05/2017
Poland's President Andrzej Duda participates in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels on Thursday, May 25, 2017. US President Donald Trump inaugurated the new headquarters during a ceremony on Thursday with other heads of state and government. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool) © The Associated Press Poland's President Andrzej Duda participates in a working dinner meeting at the NATO headquarters during a NATO summit of heads of state and government in Brussels on Thursday, May 25, 2017. US President Donald Trump inaugurated the new headquarters during a ceremony on Thursday with other heads of state and government. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool)

BRUSSELS — The latest on the NATO summit in Brussels (all times local):

11:35 p.m.

Poland's leaders say they have declared readiness to increase the nation's participation in the fight against terrorism by increasing the number of Polish troops in the Middle East and by helping train engineers and technicians for the Iraqi army.

Poland currently has over 200 troops and four F-16 fighter jets in Kuwait and in Iraq.

President Andrzej Duda said after the NATO summit Thursday that Poland is ready to increase its military presence in Iraq and offer technical assistance to its armed forces, but that no decisions were made and no figures mentioned.

Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said the Poles would be training Iraqi specialists in Poland and in Iraq on how to maintain and repair military equipment.

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10:30 p.m.

NATO's chief says member nations have agreed to submit by December action plans on how they aim to meet the military alliance's defense spending goals.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that the plans would lay out how they expect to move toward spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2024.

The plans also would detail the types of military equipment the countries want to purchase and how they intend to contribute to NATO operations.

Stoltenberg says NATO defense ministers would review the plans in February.

The agreement follows U.S. President Donald Trump's vocal insistence that NATO members need to contribute more toward their own defense.

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4:40 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel says she is confident that Germany is on the right path with its defense spending, as President Donald Trump demands that allies respect their pledges to increase defense spending.

Merkel said Thursday that NATO leaders, meeting in Brussels, will confirm a decision from 2011 to increasing spending toward 2 percent of GDP by 2024.

She said that "confirm means: not more and not less."

Merkel also told reporters that she is pleased that NATO spending plans will also take into account what kinds of military equipment countries have and how much they are contributing to alliance operations.

To meet the 2 percent guideline Germany would have to virtually double its military budget, spending more money on defense than Russia.

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4:00 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she will tell Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that she plans to withdraw her country's troops from an air base near the Syrian border if lawmakers are banned from visiting them.

Germany has some 270 troops stationed at Turkey's Incirlik base as well as Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refueling plane as part of the campaign against the Islamic State group.

Merkel said Thursday that she "will very clearly say in the talks with the Turkish president that for us it is indispensable, because we have a parliament's army, that our soldiers can be visited by members of the German Parliament."

If not, she added, "we need to leave Incirlik."

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2:30 p.m.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it's important for NATO and partners to share information, as a row brews between Britain and the United States over Manchester bomb scene photos.

Trudeau told reporters Thursday that "the track record has shown that collaboration and cooperation between allies, friends and partners has saved lives and keeps all of our citizens safe."

He declined to be drawn into the intelligence-sharing row, which has grown after photos from the crime scene appeared in The New York Times newspaper.

Manchester police say they will stop sharing information with the United States.

Trudeau's remarks came ahead of a NATO summit in Brussels attended by President Donald Trump — who was accused of sharing sensitive information supplied by Israel with top Russian diplomats.

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11:15 a.m.

NATO's chief affirmed Thursday that the alliance will join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State group but will not wage direct war against the extremists — an announcement timed for U.S. President Donald Trump's first appearance at a summit of the alliance's leaders.

In the wake of this week's suicide bomb attack at a concert in Manchester, NATO leaders are keen to show that the alliance born in the Cold War is responding to today's security threats as they meet in Brussels. Trump has questioned its relevance and pushed members to do more to defend themselves.

Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday that joining the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition "will send a strong political message of NATO's commitment to the fight against terrorism and also improve our coordination within the coalition."

But he underlined that "it does not mean that NATO will engage in combat operations."

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