US Secretary of State Blinken arrives in Brussels to rebuild ties with NATO allies, EU

Photo: EPA Antony Blinken and Jens Stoltenberg attend a news conference, Brussels, 23 March 2021.

The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday pledged to rebuild and revitalise the transatlantic NATO military alliance and to share American plans on any possible withdrawal from Afghanistan, Reuters reported. Speaking on his first visit to NATO headquarters, Blinken said the alliance was at a pivotal moment in facing threats around the world, as well as climate change.

“I’ve come here to express the United States’ steadfast commitment (to NATO),” Blinken told reporters as he met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. “The United States wants to rebuild our partnerships, first and foremost with our NATO allies, we want to revitalise the alliance.”

After four years of friction with Washington under the presidency of Donald Trump, who said the alliance was obsolete, NATO’s European allies have also welcomed the change in tone under new US President Joe Biden.

Stoltenberg has set out areas where NATO could modernise over the medium term - from climate measures to more sustainable funding of military operations - and needs US support,

Asked about any possible withdrawal from Afghanistan, Blinken said a US review of options was still underway and he would listen and consult with allies. NATO foreign ministers will discuss Afghanistan over the next two days in Brussels. “We went in together, we have adjusted together and when the time is right, we will leave together,” Blinken said of Western involvement in the country.

Washington’s top diplomat will attend a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers and hold talks with EU chiefs as he tries to mend relations that were strained under former US president Donald Trump. At the EU, Blinken is to discuss pressing challenges including Russia and China with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, FRANCE24 reported.Washington is keen to enlist Brussels in a united front of democracies against the rising power of Beijing. The two sides, along with Britain and Canada, on Monday made a first step towards coordinated actions, with synchronised sanctions over China’s crackdown on the Uighur minority.

 

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