NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (R) and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis give a joint press statement prior to a NATO Defence Ministers Meeting at its headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 15, 2017. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan)
NATO defense ministers are to tackle defense spending and the fight against terrorism at the organization's upcoming meetings, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.
Briefing media on the agenda of the meeting over the next two days, Stoltenberg stressed the importance of strength and unity of the alliance in addressing security challenges.
"NATO is founded on the bond between North America and Europe, and in good times and bad, that bond has been unbreakable," he said.
He welcomed that defense spending among European allies and Canada had increased by 3.8 percent in real terms in 2016 and underlined "the importance of fair burden-sharing and higher defense spending".
Stoltenberg also said "ministers will also focus on the fight against terrorism, and threats stemming from the Middle East and North Africa."
New U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will attend the two-day meeting which starts on Wednesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who has referred to NATO as "obsolete", said during his campaign that he would decide whether to come to allies' aid only after reviewing if those nations had "fulfilled their obligations to us".