For the relief of allies, Lloyd Austin, the new Secretary of Defense of the United States, takes a very different, more positive tone about NATO, which the United States adopted under the previous administration of Donald Trump. After the first NATO consultations at this level since Joe Biden’s government took office on January 20, Minister Ank Bijleveld called it “a constructive, peaceful tone.”
According to Bisleveld, Austin stressed the importance of unity in the coalition and the commitment of the United States. “It is also very positive that President Biden has given guarantees to Section 5 of the NATO agreement,” he said. In this important article, each member state is obliged to consider an attack on one member state as an attack on all member states. On the other hand, Washington is committed to NATO’s standards for all member states to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.
According to the minister, Minister Austin spoke on behalf of his president. “The previous situation was sometimes weird and very difficult. Then we saw tweets that didn’t always match what we heard.” Trump has repeatedly denounced his NATO allies during his presidency.
Pistilveld said he had not yet spoken personally with Austin. “He’s still doing his rounds,” he said. During the first video conference, he came across as a “quiet, balanced man”. “He’s a former soldier and a lot of knowledge.”
The defense ministers will meet again on Thursday. Then, among other things, withdrawal from Afghanistan will be on the agenda. Trump has agreed with the Taliban without consulting with other NATO countries that US troops will leave by May 1. NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference that “we will leave at the right time.” “We went in together and we decided together when to go out.” According to Bijleweld, May 1 is “not realistic”.
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