The two sides will collaborate on multiple levels


OSLO, June 17 (Xinhua) -- The Norwegian government on Friday proposed a substantial increase in military funding to tackle ""deteriorated"" security situation in its long-term plan for the Nordic country's armed forces.

In its white paper to parliament describing the Long Term Plan for the Norwegian Armed Forces for the years 2017-2020, the Norwegian government recommended a gradual increase in the defence budget over the course of the coming four years to a 2020-level 7.2 billion kroner (860 million U.S. dollars) above 2016-levels.

In total, the Norwegian government recommended additional funding over the course of the coming 20 years of 165 billion kroner (19.7 billion U.S. dollars), according to the plan.

""The international security situation, both globally and in Norway's immediate region, has deteriorated since the previous Long Term Plan was presented in 2012,"" the white paper said.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg called the plan ""a new course, change of pace and a historic commitment to the armed forces,"" according to the Norwegian news agency NTB.

""We are taking a big step towards NATO's goal of having a defence budget close to two percent of GDP,"" Solberg said, adding that the armed forces will cooperate with their allies in case of a military crisis.

The new long-term plan would strengthen Norway's defense capabilities and contribute to safety and freedom, she said.

Norwegian Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Soreide said the government in this way lays the foundation for a long-term and sustainable development of the armed forces with a real balance between tasks, structure and economy.

""The armed forces are not adapted to the challenges we face and defense capability needs to be strengthened. We have to choose between keeping the defense structure as it is today and increasing our defense capability,"" Soreide said.

""Our answer is that it is imperative to increase our defense capabilities in the current security and political situation,"" Soreide added.

The new plan also includes significant economic cuts through savings and changed personnel structure, estimated to be 2.5 billion kroner (299 million U.S. dollars) by the end of 2020 and a total of 40 billion kroner (4.8 billion U.S. dollars) over a period of 20 years.

The internal efficiency savings will allow funding to be re-allocated to other high priority areas within the defence sector, according to the plan. Enditem


by Peter Mertz

DENVER Terry Rozier Jersey , United States, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Two massive forest fires are sweeping though Idaho in America's northwest, as more than a thousand firefighters have raced to the scene to contain the blazes and protect second homes of America's most wealth and famous.

The nine-day-old Elk Complex fire has destroyed 81 structures and was still raging Saturday with 125,033 acres (50,600 hectares) destroyed, fire officials confirmed.

But 50 miles (80 km) to the west Shaquille O'Neal Jersey , the Beaver Creek fire was spreading rapidly and threatening the historic "wild west" town of Hailey, the seat of Blaine County.

The fire has forced evacuation of "2,250 homes and 7,000 people," Blaine County Sheriff Gene Ramsey reported on Twitter, confirming mandatory evacuations of parts of Hailey Robert Parish Jersey , a small city of 7,893 residents.

"It's heading straight for Hailey. The flames are towering above the town and are clearly visible to the residents," said Bronwyn Nickel, public information officer for Blaine County. "We're telling residents to get out."

The fire, spreading in all directions due to winds, is still considered a major threat to the wealthy ski town of Sun Valley and the larger old town of Ketchum Reggie Lewis Jersey , where American writer Earnest Hemmingway lived and died.

"It is spreading right up the river valley ... through heavy vegetation and wooded areas," said Nickel, who noted extremely dry and hot conditions have accelerated the fire.

In addition to the firefighters, an extensive array of local and national aircraft have been deployed, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reported.

With no loss of life and minor destruction thus far, both fires seem mild compared with June fires in Colorado that burned more than 500 homes Red Auerbach Jersey , and in Arizona that killed 19 firefighters.

Both Idaho blazes were started by lightening and are currently less than 10 percent contained, according to NIFC.

Nearby, the Aug. 8 Pony Complex fire is now 90 percent controlled, after destroying 149,384 acres (60,454 hectares) Paul Pierce Jersey , NIFC reported.

With fires thus far totally affecting more than 400,000 acres (161,876 hectares), Idaho appears to head toward a record year of destruction from wild fires.

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