- The Washington Times - Monday, May 10, 2021

President Biden promoted democracy and the need to deter “strategic competitors” during a virtual summit Monday with the Central and Eastern European allies who make up the “Bucharest Nine,” the White House said.

The B9 summit preceded a wider summit on June 14 with the rest of the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“President Biden underscored his commitment to rebuilding alliances and strengthening transatlantic relations,” a White House description of the meeting said. “He conveyed his desire for closer cooperation with our nine Allies in Central Europe and the Baltic and Black Sea regions on the full range of challenges, including global health security, climate change, energy security, and global economic recovery.”

The readout did not mention Russia by name, but the superpower looms over relations with NATO’s eastern flank.

Russia recently withdrew some troops but roughly 80,000 remain near the border with Ukraine amid long-running tensions there, spurring Mr. Biden to show support for allies in the region.

“President Biden expressed his support for enhancing NATO’s deterrence and defense posture, as well as the importance of allies increasing their resilience against harmful economic and political actions by our strategic competitors,” the White House said. “In addition, he welcomed the opportunity to engage with these Allies — as well as with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who was also in attendance — about alliance efforts to meet future threats.”

“Finally,” it added, “President Biden stressed the importance of strengthening democratic governance and rule of law — at home, within the alliance, and around the world.”

Monday’s summit was hosted by presidents Klaus Iohannis of Romania and Andrzej Duda of Poland.

Other members of the group include Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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