Lithuania has confidence in the United States regardless of who its next president is, President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Thursday.

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Dalia Grybauskaitė
© Reuters/Scanpix

She was commenting on Donald Trump's remarks that under his leadership, the US would not automatically defend the Baltic countries in case of a Russian attack.

"I'd like to send a message back saying: we trust America no matter who is the president of America, " Grybauskaitė said.

"America has always defended nations that were attacked and it will continue to do so," she added.

The Republican presidential candidate has told The New York Times that he would decide whether to protect the Baltic countries against Russian aggression based on whether the nations "have fulfilled their obligations to us".

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, on an official visit to Vilnius, underlined that Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty obliges NATO members to come to the defence of any NATO member that is attacked, but added that nations must seek to meet their commitment to spend 2% of their GDP on defence.

"I really do not think that other nations will lose solidarity. We are united and defend our borders, territories and people," she said.

Lithuania had long lagged behind its NATO allies in terms of military expenditure, but it started boosting defence funding in recent years in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine and its military activity in the Baltic Sea region.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius has said recently that next year's draft budget earmarks around €725 million for defence, which accounts for 1.79% of the country's gross domestic product.

The government plans that the defence budget will reach the 2% target set by NATO in 2018.

According to information provided by NATO, Lithuania this year ranks among the top ten countries of the Alliance in terms of defence spending.

Croatia's defence budget this year makes up 1.23% of GDP.

BNS
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