US President Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary General during a NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels on June 14, 2021 Photograph:( AFP )
This is Biden's first visit to NATO summit as US president
US President Joe Biden on Monday warned that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) must prepare to adapt to 'new challenges' from China and Russia. Biden arrived at the NATO headquarters for summit with 29 counterparts. Biden said that alliance was "critically important" for US security. This is Biden's first visit to NATO summit as US president
"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.
"I welcome the fact that we have a president of the United States who is strongly committed to NATO, to North America and Europe, working together in NATO," Stoltenberg said.
(With inputs from agencies)