President Biden kicked off his first NATO summit Monday by reasserting the United States’ obligation to the 72-year-old military alliance by calling it “sacred commitment.”
Speaking with reporters after a long day of meetings with other NATO allies at its headquarters in Brussels, Mr. Biden sought to shift the tone from former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the pact.
He said the U.S. commitment to NATO is “rock solid and unshakable.
“It is a sacred commitment. NATO stands together,” Mr. Biden told reporters. “That is how we’ve met every other threat in the past. It is our great strength.”
Members of the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organization spent much of the first day focused on the rise in cyberattacks from China and Russia, along with those two countries’ growing military strength.
NATO issued a statement Monday describing Russia as a “threat” and highlighted the “challenges” posed by China’s ambitious military buildup.
“China is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal with more warheads and a larger number of sophisticated delivery systems to establish a nuclear triad,” the statement read.
The statements on China and Russia come ahead of Mr. Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin later this week.
Speaking with reporters, Mr. Biden refused to offer details about the topics he plans to discuss with his Russian counterpart, but said he would make clear where the “red lines” are.
NATO leaders also agreed that a cyberattack on one member could trigger a joint response by all of the nations.
For Mr. Biden, however, the goal was to assure NATO leaders that America is united with its allies. He underscored the nation’s commitment to Article 5 of the alliance charter, which establishes that an attack on one member is an attack on all of the members.
“Everyone in that room understood the shared appreciation that America is back,” he told reporters.
Mr. Biden’s comments represent a sharp contrast to those of his predecessor, who questioned whether NATO was relevant and criticized members for their lack of defense spending.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo welcomed Mr. Biden to the meeting and took a thinly veiled swipe at Mr. Trump.
Mr. De Croo said Mr. Biden’s “presence emphasizes the renewal of the transatlantic partnership.”
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed Mr. Biden’s assurances as “a new chapter in trans-Atlantic relations.”
Mr. Stoltenberg also talked about “ a new chapter in trans-Atlantic relations.”
The president said he assured NATO allies that there will be no repeat of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in part because the influence of Mr. Trump and the Republican Party is on the wane.
“The Republican Party is vastly diminished in numbers, the leadership of the Republican Party is fractured, and the Trump wing of the party is the bulk of the party, but it makes up a significant minority of the American people,” he said at a press conference in Brussels.
Mr. Biden said the attack “shocked and surprised” allies, but they understand that the incident is not representative of the American people.