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Sunday October 24, 2021

Biden rallies Nato against ‘new challenges’

AFP
June 15, 2021

BRUSSELS: US President Joe Biden warned on Monday that Nato must adapt to new challenges posed by China and Russia as he met fellow leaders to renew Washington’s “sacred” bond with its allies.

Arriving at Nato headquarters in Brussels for a summit with his 29 counterparts, Biden stressed that the alliance was “critically important” to US security.His first visit as president to the summit has been billed as a renewal of bonds after his predecessor Donald Trump called the US commitment into question. But it is also a moment to renew priorities and strategies for dealing with Moscow and Beijing, novel threats, and Nato’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan after years of conflict.

“I think that there is a growing recognition over the last couple of years that we have new challenges,” Biden told Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at bilateral talks ahead of the main summit. “We have Russia that is not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped, as well as China,” he said.

“I want to make it clear: Nato is critically important for US interests in and of itself. If there weren’t one, we’d have to invent it,” he said. And he stressed once again that Article 5 of the Nato treaty—the obligation of members to defend one another, once called into question by Trump—was a “sacred obligation”.

The allies were due to agree a statement stressing common ground on securing their withdrawal from Afghanistan, joint responses to cyber attacks and the challenge of a rising China. “We’re not entering a new Cold War and China is not our adversary, not our enemy,” Stoltenberg told reporters as he arrived at Nato headquarters ahead of the leaders. “But we need to address together, as the alliance, the challenges that the rise of China poses to our security.”

Looming large at the summit is also the scramble to complete Nato’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan after Biden surprised partners by ordering US troops home by September 11.France’s President Emmanuel Macron met one-on-one with his Turkish counterpart and fellow ally Recep Tayyip Erdogan ahead of the summit, and Biden was due to meet him later.

On the table will be Ankara’s offer to secure Kabul airport after Nato troops leave—but also concerns in other capitals about Turkey’s own aggressive regional policy.In contrast to Trump, Biden has firmly reasserted American backing for the 72-year-old military alliance—and his administration has been making a show of consulting more with partners.