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BRUSSELS – Reuters
NATO leaders hope to open a new chapter in transatlantic relations at a summit with US President Joe Biden on Monday, agreeing to focus on tackling climate change for the first time, as well as countering China’s military buildup.
The summit, described by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as a “turning point”, aims to turn the page of four years of tensions with Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who undermined credibility in the Western alliance by calling it “obsolete.”
Diplomats say the 30 allies gathered in Brussels are seeking to help the nuclear alliance, founded in 1949, counter threats ranging from harsh weather conditions that could exacerbate conflicts to Russia’s attempts to undermine Western democracies with clandestine attacks.
Russian attempts to divide the West are likely to be discussed ahead of Biden’s meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Tuesday, diplomats said.
The alliance has modernized its defenses since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, but it remains vulnerable to cyberattacks and disinformation despite Moscow’s denial of any attempts to destabilize NATO members.
But diplomats say the most pressing concern for NATO leaders is the need for Biden to reaffirm the US commitment to NATO’s collective defense after the Trump era.
Trump’s confrontational rhetoric towards allies from 2017 to 2019 during NATO summits gave the impression of a crisis, envoys said.
China’s growing military and economic presence in the Atlantic, including joint military exercises with Russia, will receive a strong response from leaders, and the summit is expected to pledge to significantly reduce its military’s carbon dioxide emissions by 2050.
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