Bucharest: Pentagon head Chuck Hagel on Thursday called on the European allies to raise army budgets to modernise military capabilities.
"We will ask the Congress for around USD 1 billion for training, to show the allies that we are willing to help them," the US secretary of defence said at a press conference in Black Sea port city of Constanta, Xinhua reported.
The US official also appreciated Romania`s purchase of F-16 planes, stressing that his country wants to continue close work with Romania, especially regarding aerial capabilities.
"We are increasing cooperation with other partners in the Black Sea region: Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine," he added.
Romania has demonstrated that it is a trustworthy partner for the US and NATO, said Hagel, adding that his country appreciates Romania`s contributions to maintaining security in this area as well as in other theaters of operations.
"Romania continues to render important support for strategic objectives, offering our troops the possibility to transit Romania," said Hagel.
Romania`s Defence Minister Mircea Dusa said, "Your visit to our country has a very important significance, because it is for the first time that a US secretary of defence visits Romania after 2004, the year when Romania became a full NATO member."
"The security situation in Romania`s region has changed dramatically, with profound implications for NATO`s stance in general, and particularly for the countries on the eastern flank of NATO."
Hagel attended a meeting of NATO defence ministers at its headquarters in Brussels before his Romanian trip and will wrap up his tour in France after meeting with his French counterpart and participating in the D-Day celebrations.