Obama says NATO defense spending needs upward trajectory

ROME Thu Mar 27, 2014 12:34pm EDT

1 of 3. U.S. President Barack Obama and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi hold a news conference following their meeting at Villa Madama in Rome March 27, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

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ROME (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama urged NATO allies on Thursday to get their defense budgets on an upward trajectory with "everybody pitching in" as he wounded up a day of meetings with Vatican and Italian officials.

At a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Obama welcomed an International Monetary Fund aid package for Ukraine, calling it a major step forward that should help stabilize Ukraine's economy as it prepares for elections in May.

He urged the U.S. Congress to move quickly to approve assistance for Ukraine.

Obama took note of the fragile nature of European economies, saying those capitals with budget surpluses should help lift demand in Europe as a way to boost the European economy overall.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by James Mackenzie)

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