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Biden emphasizes 'critically important' NATO alliance upon arrival at summit

President Biden on Monday touted the importance of the NATO alliance upon his arrival at the organization's summit in Brussels.

"NATO is critically important for U.S. interests in and of itself. If there weren't one, we'd have to invent one," Biden said, calling the Article 5 clause that outlines how allies will consider an attack on one an attack on all a "sacred obligation."

The summit is expected to focus on updating the alliance's defense strategy, cybersecurity, climate change and the looming U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Biden and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg both indicated the emerging threats of China and Russia would also be a topic of discussion. Russia, in particular, is of concern for some Baltic states as Moscow takes an aggressive posture toward Ukraine, which is not a full member of NATO but has pushed to join.

"I think there is a growing recognition over the last couple years that we have new challenges," Biden said. "We have Russia that is not acting in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped, as well as China."

Biden will leave the NATO summit on Tuesday for Switzerland, where he will hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Sunday that Biden will meet privately with NATO allies before the Putin summit "so that he will go into Geneva with the full support and solidarity of all of our NATO allies."

Biden on Monday will meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan before holding a press conference.

The president's stop at NATO is seen by White House officials in a similar vein as his attendance at the Group of Seven summit in the United Kingdom over the weekend as Biden seeks to reassure European allies of U.S. support after four years of the Trump administration.

Former President Trump regularly chastised NATO allies, pressing them to contribute more to the organization and reportedly considering pulling the U.S. out of the post-World War II alliance.

Stoltenberg stressed in brief remarks alongside Biden on Monday that "a stronger NATO is good for Europe, but it's also good for America."