NATO greets Biden in a ‘pivotal’ post-Trump meeting.

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At a meeting with US President Joe Biden on Monday, NATO leaders seek to start a new chapter in transatlantic ties by committing to focus on addressing climate change and confronting China’s military growth for the first time.

The meeting, described as a “pivotal moment” by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, intends to put an end to four difficult years with Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, who called the Western alliance “obsolete”

For the 30 allies meeting in Brussels, diplomats say nothing could be further from the truth, looking to the nuclear-armed alliance founded in 1949 to help deal with threats from extreme weather that can worsen conflicts to Russian attempts to undermine Western democracies through covert attacks.

“NATO owes it to the billion people we keep safe every day to continually adapt and evolve to meet new challenges and face down emerging threats,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who hosted Biden and other G7 leaders in Cornwall, England, said in prepared remarks on the Brussels’ summit eve.

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Russia’s efforts to divide the West are likely to run through discussions, diplomats said, ahead of a meeting between Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Geneva.

Banners displaying the NATO logo are placed at the entrance of new NATO headquarters during the move to the new building, in Brussels, Belgium April 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

Since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, NATO has modernised its defences but remains vulnerable to cyber attacks and disinformation, although Moscow denies any attempts to destabilise NATO allies.

“Cyber threats can emerge at any point during a crisis and trigger misunderstandings and unintended signals … that could precipitate war,” the European Leadership Network (ELN) research group said in a paper released for the summit.

But foremost in leaders’ minds, diplomats say, is a need to hear Biden recommit the United States to NATO’s collective defence after the Trump era. Trump’s confrontational rhetoric towards allies from 2017 to 2019 at NATO summits created an impression of crisis, envoys said.

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China’s growing military and economic presence in the Atlantic, including joint military drills with Russia, will prompt a strong response from leaders. A pledge to make NATO militaries carbon-neutral by 2050 is also expected.

G7 leaders agreed on Sunday to raise their contributions to meet a spending pledge of $100 billion a year by rich countries to help poorer countries cut carbon emissions and cope with global warming.


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