President Joe Biden sent a ‘strong message’ of the US’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the organization’s secretary general said as leaders of the 30 member countries convened for the 2021 summit. Biden worked to patch up the US’s relationship with NATO after his predecessor Donald Trump criticized the alliance and did not support its central tenet.
After a session on Monday that lasted less than three hours, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed to reporters that Biden’s message was that the US is on board with the organization.
‘We heard a strong message from President Biden on America’s commitment to NATO,’ Stoltenberg said, adding that the other allies made ‘an equally strong commitment’ in return.
Stoltenberg continued: ‘All leaders agreed that in an age of global competition Europe and North America must stand strong together in NATO, to defend our values and our interests, especially at a time when authoritarian regimes, like Russia and China challenge the rules based international order’.
Arriving at the summit in Brussels on Monday morning, Biden told Stoltenberg that the alliance was ‘critically important for US interests’. Biden also said that Article 5 of the founding treaty, the mutual defense clause, is a ‘sacred obligation’.
‘There is a growing recognition over the last couple years that we have new challenges,’ Biden added. ‘We have Russia, which is acting in a way that is not consistent with what we had hoped, and we have China.’
Biden’s commitment stood in contrast to Trump, who in May 2017 refused to support Article 5 and criticized NATO’s new $1.2billion headquarters as too costly. Stoltenberg, who will serve until September 2022, worked to try keep Trump from sabotaging the alliance.
Stoltenberg on Monday compared the atmosphere at the summit to the first day of school.
‘It was really great to be together and to meet together in person, as a truly transatlantic family or as prime minister Johnson said, it was like the first day back at school seeing all your old friends again,’ Stoltenberg said.
Biden delivered his remarks in the closed door summit and had side meetings with leaders from Poland, Romania and the Baltic states. He told Baltic leaders that the US seeks a ‘stable and constructive relationship with Russia, but also will respond in the face of Russia’s harmful activities’, a senior Biden administration official told CNN. In talks with Polish and Romanian leaders, Biden expressed a commitment to ‘stand up at the face of the threat posed by Russia’, the official said.
The US president will wrap up his 8-day Europe trip with a summit on Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
For more stories like this, check our news page.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]