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Biden’s first NATO summit to tackle China, Russia, reform

Brussels – U.S. President Joe Biden is to take part in his debut NATO summit on Monday as the 30 countries look to turn their attention to external threats.

The organisation will also seek to put the strained years of Donald Trump’s administration behind them.

The NATO members are planning to call on China to respect international commitments and live up to its role as a major world power, NATO sources told dpa.

They are also expected to urge the country to increase its transparency with regards to its nuclear abilities.

This would be the first time NATO leaders take such an assertive stance towards China. After their last meeting in late 2019, they stated only that they “recognise that China’s growing influence and international policies present both opportunities and challenges.”

The NATO meeting comes at the heels of the Group of Seven (G7) summit in England where major industrialised nations committed to taking a tougher stance on Beijing on matters such as unfair trade practices, human rights issues, and the crackdown on the opposition in Hong Kong.

At the same time, the G7 declaration underlined a common interest in cooperation with China on global challenges like climate change.

But China is not the only country under scrutiny by NATO members.

Leaders are also expected to send a pointed message to an increasingly aggressive Russia – the defence alliance’s traditional adversary – as well as tackling security issues linked to climate change, cyber defence, and new military technology.

In addition, the allies should sign off a reform plan for 2030 and formally decide to start overhauling their core strategic concept, which was last updated in 2010.

Biden is planning a bilateral meeting on the sidelines with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The two are NATO allies but have traded harsh words about each other in the past.

Another important issue is NATO’s ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan almost 20 years after the U.S. invasion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

While the NATO allies are to keep up funding as well as security and civilian support, the exact nature of future cooperation with Afghan authorities is yet to be determined.

The drawdown, set to be completed later this year, is coinciding with increased bloodshed in Afghanistan, with the militant Islamist Taliban group regaining control over territory.

According to a White House statement, Biden will “reaffirm the enduring transatlantic bond through NATO and underscore the US ironclad commitment to Article 5 – an attack on one is an attack on all and will be met with a collective response.”

Frustrated by what Washington has long viewed as unfair defence spending imbalances among the allies, former U.S. president Trump repeatedly raised doubts whether his country would provide military assistance in a crisis.

He even threatened to leave NATO.

Though more conciliatory in tone, the Biden administration still wants to see other allies spend more on defence.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday he expected allies to agree on funding commitments reflecting their heightened ambition, but made no mention of his original, bolder proposal to jointly fund exercises in the bloc’s eastern flank.

This had been a key element of the 2030 modernization drive, but according to multiple sources within the alliance, has been scaled back in negotiations in the run up to the summit. (NAN)