Europe

NATO chief seeks bigger defense budgets ahead of US meeting

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. NATO defense ministers will begin a two-day ministerial beginning on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. NATO defense ministers will begin a two-day ministerial beginning on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. NATO defense ministers will begin a two-day ministerial beginning on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. NATO defense ministers will begin a two-day ministerial beginning on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump, left, with Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, watching, explains the executive action on extreme vetting that he is about to sign at the Pentagon in Washington. American forces were perched high on the top of the Bashiq Mountain, calling in airstrikes that pounded Islamic State militants. Down below, Kurdish forces rolled past to recapture in the ancient city of Sinjar.  (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

    FILE - In this Jan. 27, 2017 file photo, President Donald Trump, left, with Defense Secretary James Mattis, right, watching, explains the executive action on extreme vetting that he is about to sign at the Pentagon in Washington. American forces were perched high on the top of the Bashiq Mountain, calling in airstrikes that pounded Islamic State militants. Down below, Kurdish forces rolled past to recapture in the ancient city of Sinjar. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)  (The Associated Press)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is urging the allies to step up defense spending on the eve of a first meeting between new U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and his 27 counterparts in Brussels.

Stoltenberg said Tuesday that "fair burden-sharing and increased defense spending underpins the trans-Atlantic alliance."

U.S. President Donald Trump hinted during the election campaign that he might not defend allies who refuse to contribute their fair share. His comments have alarmed European nations, particularly those near Russia's border like the Baltic States and Poland.

NATO leaders have committed to halt spending cuts and raise their military budgets to 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Apart from the United States only four member countries — Britain, Estonia, Poland and debt-ridden Greece — have met the benchmark.