US encouraging partnerships between NATO alliance and friendly nations in Indo-Pacific: WH

NewsDrum Desk
New Update

Washington, Jul 9 (PTI) The United States is encouraging partnerships between the NATO alliance and friendly countries across the world, in particular those in the Indo-Pacific region, the White House said on Monday, on the eve of the crucial NATO summit here.

Leaders from 38 different countries have gathered in Washington for a historic summit to mark the 75th anniversary of the first NATO summit. This includes the leaders of all NATO allies as well as NATO partners, including Ukraine, Japan, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

"The president has also strongly encouraged greater partnerships between the NATO alliance and friendly nations around the world, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, as you will see. The president knows that the global threats and challenges that we all face, including from authoritarian actors and terrorist organisations, are inextricably linked," John Kirby, White House National Security Communications Advisor, told reporters at a news conference here.

"He has also encouraged our NATO allies to join him in making significant investments in our mutual defence and deterrence capabilities. When the Biden-Harris administration took office, only nine NATO allies were spending at least 2 per cent of their gross domestic product on defence -- 2 per cent was the Wales pledge," he said.

Kirby said for 75 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has served a vital role in protecting the American people and making the world a less dangerous place.

"NATO is the strongest defensive alliance in history and today, it is bigger, stronger, better resourced and more united than ever before, in large part, due to President (Joe) Biden's leadership over the past three years," he said.

"He has worked hard to expand the alliance by welcoming two new members -- Sweden and Finland -- and will officially welcome Sweden this week. He has spent countless hours rallying the alliance in 2021 and 2022 to build a global coalition to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and provide indispensable support to that country," the White House official said.

"Today, a record 23 NATO allies are at or above the minimum level of 2 per cent of the GDP on defence spending, more than twice as many as in 2020 and nearly eight times higher than when the allies first set that 2-per cent benchmark a decade ago," he added.

Biden will welcome NATO leaders and the first lady and he will host a 75th anniversary commemoration event at the Mellon Auditorium on Tuesday. That is the site where the NATO treaty was formally signed in 1949.

"On Wednesday, the president will hold his first bilateral meeting with the new prime minister of the United Kingdom, Keir Starmer, here at the White House. The president will also meet with the 32 members of the alliance at the convention centre," Kirby said.

Later that evening, the president and the first lady will host NATO leaders for a dinner again at the White House. On Thursday morning, the NATO will hold a meeting with the European Union (EU) and with the NATO's Indo-Pacific partners -- Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand -- to deepen their cooperation.

On Thursday afternoon, there will be a meeting of the NATO Ukraine Council, after which the president will host an event with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and nearly two dozen of "our allies and partners who have signed bilateral security agreements with Ukraine, just as the president did, as you saw, in Italy a week or so ago", Kirby said. PTI LKJ RC