President Biden will speak to NATO allies about “effective burden-sharing” next month, in a hint that his dealings with the military alliance may have at least one similarity with those of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.
Biden will meet with leaders during the NATO summit in Belgium on June 14, the White House said on Friday. The president has pledged to revitalize U.S. relations with members of the alliance following tensions under Trump, who argued throughout his term in office that other NATO members were not contributing enough in defense spending.
“President Biden will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, transatlantic security and collective defense,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said regarding the trip. “NATO leaders will discuss how to orient the alliance to future threats and ensure effective burden-sharing. The president will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow NATO leaders.”
In March, NATO disclosed that 11 member nations spent at least 2% of their gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in 2020, up from three nations in 2014. NATO’s European member nations and Canada spent 3.9% more in real terms from 2019 to 2020.
NATO set a goal for all members to hit the 2% spending benchmark by 2024. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously signaled that the Biden administration would continue to push NATO allies to increase their defense spending.
“When our allies shoulder their fair share of the burden, they will have a fair say in the decisions,’’ Blinken said at a press conference in March.
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GOP leaders criticized Biden earlier this month after he unveiled a budget proposal seeking $715 billion in funding for the Pentagon. The request marked a slight reduction in defense spending when adjusted for inflation.
The NATO summit is one of several stops that Biden will make on his first overseas trip. The president will appear at the G7 Summit in the United Kingdom from June 11 to 13. He will also participate in a U.S. summit with the European Union in Brussels.