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German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on during a news conference with Belgium's Premier Charles Michel (not pictured) in Berlin, Germany June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi

(reuters_tickers)

BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday said she expected German military expenditure to rise steadily in coming years, in line with Berlin's pledge to meet a NATO target of moving toward spending 2 percent of economic output by 2024.

"That will be reflected in the 2018 budget and in the following years, I think," Merkel told reporters after a meeting with Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel.

After years of spending cuts, Germany has been under increased pressure from Washington and other NATO members to boost its military spending more rapidly to counter a more aggressive Russia.

The current longer-term budget plan calls for German military spending to increase to 1.3 percent of GDP in 2019, but to edge lower thereafter, with the centre-left Social Democrats, junior partners in Merkel's coalition, thus far resisting further increases.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Sabine Siebold; editing by John Stonestreet)

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Reuters