Udayavni Special

US President Joe Biden meets NATO Secretary General ahead of Brussels summit

PTI, Jun 8, 2021, 10:33 AM IST

Washington: US President Joe Biden met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss the June 14 summit in Brussels and expressed his strong commitment to working closely with allies, the White House has said.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 European and North American countries. Its fundamental goal is to safeguard the allies’ freedom and security by political and military means.

A meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government will be held on June 14 in Brussels at NATO headquarters. The meeting will be chaired by Stoltenberg.

Biden, during his meeting with Stoltenberg, expressed his strong commitment to working closely with allies to build on NATO’s seven decades of success safeguarding transatlantic security and democratic values, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.

“The two leaders agreed on the importance of the NATO 2030 initiative to adapt the Alliance to meet the challenges of strategic competition and transnational threats, including climate change and cyberattacks.

“They also reviewed Allies’ progress over the last seven years in boosting defence spending and other contributions to our common defence, underscoring the importance of sharing responsibility equitably within NATO and ensuring NATO is adequately resourced to address the threat environment,” Psaki said.

In addition, they discussed NATO’s two decades of investment in Afghanistan and continued support for diplomatic peace efforts, she said.

Following the meeting, Stoltenberg told reporters that he discussed with Biden a wide range of issues including Russia and China, global terrorism, cyber threats and also the security consequences of climate change.

“But we spent most of the time on preparing the upcoming NATO summit in Brussels next week where we will agree, forward looking, ambitious agenda on how to further strengthen our alliance. And I thanked the President for his powerful commitment to the transatlantic bond, to Article Five, and his personal leadership on all these issues,” he said.

The two, Stoltenberg said, agreed that in a more competitive world, they need to strengthen NATO.

“We face security challenges which no ally can face alone. So therefore, we need to stand together in NATO.

“The NATO 2030 agenda, which NATO leaders will agree when we meet in Brussels at the NATO summit next week, is an ambitious agenda, and this is about strengthening our collective defence. It”s about strengthening our resilience. It’s about sharpening our technological edge. And it is also about working more closely with like-minded partners,” Stoltenberg said.

“To do all this, we need to invest more, and that”s exactly what we are doing. Over the last seven years, we have seen that across Europe and Canada, all allies are now investing more and I think this demonstrates a commitment to stand together, North America and Europe. And Europe and allies and Canada have added 260 billion extra for their defence spending since 2014,” he said.

A strong NATO is good for Europe, but it”s also good for the United States. No other major power has so many friends and allies as the United States has in NATO, he said.

Responding to a question, Stoltenberg said China was also an issue that was addressed during the meeting with the President. It (will be) an issue that is addressed when the NATO leaders meet next Monday, he said.

“What we see is that, of course, the rise of China poses some opportunities for our economies, for trade, and we need to talk to China on issues like, and engage with China on issues like, climate change and arms control,” he said.

At the same time, China will soon have the biggest economy in the world. They already have the second largest defence budget, the biggest Navy and they”re investing heavily in advanced military capabilities and they don”t share their values, he noted.

“We see that in the way, they crack down on democratic protests in Hong Kong, how they deal with minorities, the Uyghurs, and how they coerce neighbours, and how they threaten Taiwan.

“So, we need to stand up for the rules based on international order, and we need to work more closely with partners, including the Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan, and I expect this will be an issue that will be addressed,” said the NATO Secretary General.

Responding to another question, he said that dialogue with Russia is not a sign of weakness.

“We are strong, we are united, and then we can talk to Russia, and we need to talk to Russia to strive for a better relationship. But even if we don”t believe in a better relationship with Russia, we need to manage a difficult relationship with Russia. Arms control, transparency, risk reductions — all of these issues are important,” Stoltenberg added.

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