WASHINGTON – Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will meet with members of the world’s most powerful military alliance on Wednesday for the first time since joining the Biden administration.
NATO meets Wednesday and Thursday to discuss an array of challenges facing the 30-member group. The virtual meetings will be a glimpse into President Joe Biden’s foreign policy agenda and comes on the heels of his calls to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with America’s closest allies.
“When we strengthen our alliances we amplify our power as well as our ability to disrupt threats before they reach our shores,” Biden said during a speech at the State Department. “America cannot afford to be absent any longer on the world stage,” he added.
Biden’s message broke sharply from his predecessor’s “America First” policy, which on occasion seemed to vex NATO members.
Under former President Donald Trump, Kay Bailey Hutchison served as the connective tissue between Washington and the alliance in her role as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO.
“There was never a rift or tension among the ambassadors and me,” she told CNBC when asked if the alliance was impacted by Trump’s approach.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg greets NATO’s US Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchison on the second day of the NATO summit, in Brussels, on July 12, 2018.
Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt | AFP | Getty Images
“Now, that’s not to say that some of the allies weren’t upset with what the president had said or done on a given day. But overall we had a great relationship and always kept everyone informed,” Hutchison explained, elaborating on the wider policy goals shared by NATO members.
“I think the alliance is strong and unified and I think everyone knows that the U.S. is essential in NATO,” the former Senator from Texas said, adding that the United States will continue to take a prominent leadership role within the group.
Ahead of the virtual meetings this week, Hutchison shared what she expects will be high on the alliance’s agenda.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, attend the Tsinghua Universitys ceremony, at Friendship Palace on April 26, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Kenzaburo Fukuhara | Getty Images
The tension between Beijing and Washington soared under the Trump administration, which escalated a trade war and worked to ban Chinese technology companies from doing business in the United States.
Over the past four years, the Trump administration blamed China for a wide range of grievances, including intellectual property theft, unfair trade practices and recently, the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden previously said that his approach to China would be different from his predecessor’s in that he would work more closely with allies in order to mount pushback against Beijing.
“We will confront China’s economic abuses,” Biden explained in a speech at the State Department, describing Beijing as America’s “most serious competitor.”
“But we’re also…
Go to the news source: China and Russia threats, Afghanistan war drags