US President Joe Biden is a “strong supporter” of NATO and the alliance could be further strengthened with him in office, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week.
“President Biden and his inauguration as new president represent a new chapter for our alliance because Joe Biden is such a strong supporter of NATO. He knows NATO very well,” NATO chief told Hadley Gamble of CNBC.
This will be an opportunity to further strengthen NATO, he added, noting that Biden wants to rebuild alliances.
US engagement with NATO has reached a low point under former President Donald Trump. He has repeatedly attacked allies for paying less than their fair share of the group.
Stoltenberg said he looks forward to working with the new administration to solve problems around the world.
“We face so many challenges at once: the rise of China, … the change in the global balance of power, the more emphatic Russia using force against its neighbors in Ukraine and elsewhere, and then, of course, the constant threat of terrorist attacks.”
“None of us can handle this alone, we have to stay together,” he said. “I don’t believe only in America, I don’t believe only in Europe, I believe in Europe and North America together in NATO.”
US troops and NATO presence in Afghanistan, Iraq
Separately, Stoltenberg decided to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We have to be careful [about] not leaving too early, “he said.” At the same time, no one wants to stay in Afghanistan or Iraq longer than necessary. “
Last week, the Pentagon announced that the number of US troops in both countries had been reduced to 2,500, according to Trump’s instructions when he was president.
His administration signed an agreement with the Taliban in February aimed at a final ceasefire in Afghanistan and would reduce the US military presence in the country.
NATO also has personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Stoltenberg said NATO is in close consultation with the new US administration. “We will face a difficult dilemma,” he said.
Leaving would risk losing the gains made in Afghanistan in the fight against international terrorism and social progress, but staying means continuing to take part in a “difficult military conflict”.
“The important thing for me is that we make decisions together, that we coordinate everything we do in Afghanistan,” he said.
NATO plans to expand its presence in Iraq, Stoltenberg added.
“I strongly believe that the best way we can help prevent the return of ISIS terrorists is through training Iraqi forces, which helps them fight the terrorists themselves,” he said.
– Matt Clink of CNBC contributed to this report.