23 NATO allies on track to meet defense spending target

President Joe Biden greets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday at the White House in Washington, D.C., where he announced "a record number of allies are meeting NATO's commitment to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense." Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
President Joe Biden greets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday at the White House in Washington, D.C., where he announced "a record number of allies are meeting NATO's commitment to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense." Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI

June 17 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday at the White House, where he announced a record number of allies are on track this year to reach the NATO's 2% spending threshold.

"We have a very important announcement to make today," Biden said in remarks before his meeting with Stoltenberg. "A record number of allies are meeting NATO's commitment to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense."

NATO allies agreed during a 2014 summit to increase their domestic defense spending to 2% of their GDP.

"In fact, the number is more than double since we took office and I look forward to building on all this progress next month," Biden added.

The announcement comes just weeks before Biden is scheduled to host NATO's 75th anniversary summit in Washington, D.C.

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO meets Monday with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., where they announced increased defense spending by NATO allies. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO meets Monday with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C., where they announced increased defense spending by NATO allies. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI

"Great to be back in the United States and meet POTUS to prepare for our NATO summit in July, where we will strengthen support to Ukraine," Stoltenberg wrote Monday in a post on X.

"At that summit, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the most successful alliance in history but also make important decisions for the future not least on the issue of investing in our security."

President Joe Biden hosts a bilateral meeting with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (not shown) of NATO at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday before next month's 75th anniversary NATO summit. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
President Joe Biden hosts a bilateral meeting with Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (not shown) of NATO at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Monday before next month's 75th anniversary NATO summit. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
President Joe Biden greets Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO on Monday at the White House in Washington, D.C., before heading into a meeting where they discussed defense spending progress. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
President Joe Biden greets Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of NATO on Monday at the White House in Washington, D.C., before heading into a meeting where they discussed defense spending progress. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI

"Today, we published new numbers on defense spending, showing 23 NATO allies now spend 2% of GDP on defense," Stoltenberg added. "Across Europe and Canada, NATO allies are increasing defense spending by 18% and that's the biggest increase in decades."

Former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has repeatedly criticized NATO allies for not spending more on defense and had threatened to pull the United States from the alliance if other countries failed to increase spending.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks Monday after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks Monday after meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, D.C. Photo by Chris Kleponis /UPI

During their meeting Monday, Biden and Stoltenberg discussed defense spending progress, along with steps NATO allies are taking to support Ukraine and "deepen partnerships, including in the Indo-Pacific," according to the White House.

During next month's summit, NATO allies could introduce initiatives to institutionalize the alliance's support for Ukraine, from weapons procurement to financial support.

"The stronger the support for Ukraine is, the sooner this war can end," Stoltenberg said Monday, "and the sooner President Putin will realize he cannot wait us out."