President Biden on Monday asserted the United States’ commitment to the 72-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization by calling it a “sacred obligation” as he kicked off a summit at the organization’s headquarters in Brussels.
“NATO is critically important,” Mr. Biden said after he was greeted by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “Article 5, we take as a sacred obligation.”
Under Article 5, an attack on one of the 30 NATO members is considered an attack on all the members and requires a collective response.
“I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is here,” Mr. Biden continued. “I just want to thank you for your leadership.”
Mr. Biden also called NATO “essential for America.”
The president’s reaffirmation of the United States’ NATO commitment, marks a tone shift from former President Donald Trump, who was, at times, combative with other leaders. Mr. Trump was critical of member countries’ military spending and other issues.
Mr. Trump, at times, had threatened to withdraw from the NATO pact.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as leader of the summit’s host country, welcomed Mr. Biden to the meeting and took a thinly veiled swipe at the former U.S. president.
Mr. De Croo said Mr. Biden’s “presence emphasizes the renewal of the trans-Atlantic partnership.”
Mr. Stoltenberg also talked about “a new chapter in trans-Atlantic relations.”
“No nation and no continent can deal with these challenges alone, but Europe and North America are not alone,” he said. “We stand together with NATO.”
In addition to the NATO summit itself, Mr. Biden has scheduled meetings with individual leaders during his time in Brussels. He will meet with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr. Biden is seeking to rally NATO allies to back U.S. strategy to combat China’s military rise as well as the increasing threat of Russian-based hacking groups.
He said that Russia and China were not operating “in a way that is consistent with what we had hoped,” referencing efforts to move both countries closer to Western-style democracies.