Biden pledges US commitment to collective defense in call with NATO head

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President Biden spoke Tuesday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and emphasized the United States’s commitment to the alliance, the White House said.

In the call, Biden thanked Stoltenberg “for his steadfast leadership of the alliance, and conveyed his intention to consult and work with allies on the full range of shared security concerns, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Russia,” the White House said in a statement.

“President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to collective defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and underscored his commitment to strengthening transatlantic security,” the White House added, referring to the principle in NATO’s founding document that an attack on one ally constitutes an attack on all.

“The president also emphasized the importance of shared values, consultation, and capabilities to strengthen deterrence and counter new and emerging threats, including climate change and global health security,” the White House said.

Former President Trump had a famously frosty relationship with NATO, which he repeatedly threatened to pull out of amid demands for allies to pay more for their own defense. Trump also frequently blindsided NATO with decisions that affect the alliance, such his decisions to withdraw troops from Germany and Afghanistan.

Biden campaigned on restoring traditional U.S. alliances, and he and his aides have prioritized calls to allies in the first days of his presidency. Biden also spoke with Stoltenberg during the presidential transition, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also talked to Stoltenberg last week in his first foreign call after being sworn in.

During the Trump administration, Stoltenberg walked a fine line in an effort not to further antagonize Trump, touting increases in defense spending under Trump while also emphasizing the need for alliance unity.

The White House’s statement on Biden and Stoltenberg’s call made no mention of defense spending, but NATO’s statement said they “stressed the need to maintain the momentum for increased defense spending, to keep our nations safe in an unpredictable world.”

Stoltenberg also congratulated Biden on an inauguration that “was a powerful demonstration of the strength of America’s democracy and the values we share, and the start of a new chapter for our transatlantic alliance,” according to NATO’s statement on the call.

In addition to Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, climate change and the pandemic, the pair also discussed security concerns stemming from China, NATO said. Biden and Stoltenberg also agreed to work together on preparing for the NATO Summit in Brussels later this year, according to the statement.

“Mr. Stoltenberg welcomed President Biden’s focus on rebuilding alliances, stressing that NATO is the place where Europeans and Americans meet every day and that together, we can face challenges that none of our nations can face alone,” NATO said. 

Tags Donald Trump Jens Stoltenberg Joe Biden Lloyd Austin NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization

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