Biden to meet NATO secretary general ahead of Brussels summit

Jens Stoltenberg to visit Washington to discuss agenda including security challenges from Russia, cyberattacks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will meet with US President Joe Biden at the White House on June 7 [Stephanie Lecocq/Pool via Reuters]

United States President Joe Biden will meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House ahead of the upcoming June 14 NATO summit in Brussels.

Biden and Stoltenberg will discuss the “many issues on the NATO agenda, including reinforcing transatlantic security in the face of challenges from Russia and China”, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Friday.

“They will also discuss adapting NATO to address threats like cyberattacks and climate change, while continuing to ensure a more equitable sharing of responsibility among allies,” Psaki told reporters at a media briefing.

Stoltenberg will meet Biden at the White House on Monday, June 7, she said.

Afghanistan is almost certain to be on the agenda as the US and NATO work to withdraw forces by the September 11 deadline set by Biden.

The US has had about 3,500 troops in Afghanistan and NATO about 7,000. The withdrawal is proceeding rapidly in accordance with an agreement reached by Washington with the Taliban.

The US State Department announced on Friday the Biden administration is providing $266m in new humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan amid concerns the country faces an uncertain future after US forces withdraw.

The funding is intended to provide help for vulnerable groups including internally displaced people and women and girls facing particular risks, the State Department said in a statement.

Following the NATO summit in Brussels, Biden plans a face-to-face meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin to be held in Geneva.

“The President expects to raise a number of issues, including Ukraine and what we’ve seen as aggressive behavior at the border by the Russians,” Psaki said.

In addition, Biden will press Putin on human rights and raise US concerns about recent cyberattacks emanating from Russia, including the SolarWinds hack and recent ransomware incidents.

“We expect there to be challenging conversations moving forward, but it’s an opportunity to discuss areas where we have mutual interest like nuclear security and stability,” the White House spokesperson said.

Stoltenberg met earlier this week with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and separately with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte.

NATO wants to see sanctions fully implemented against Belarus following the forced landing of a Ryanair flight from Greece to Lithuania in May, Stoltenberg said at a press conference with Johnson on June 2.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are preparing to embark on the first foreign trip of his presidency to the UK, Belgium and Switzerland beginning June 10 [Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters]

Biden will travel to Europe beginning June 10 for a series of high-level meetings to include Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.

Speaking at an Russian economic forum in St. Petersburg on Friday, Putin said he does not expect any breakthroughs from the Geneva summit but hopes it will help to create conditions for a future normalization of US-Russian relations, the Reuters news service reported.

The US and European nations imposed economic sanctions on Russia following its annexation of Crimea and military action in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Ahead of the summit announcement, the Biden administration withdrew sanctions on the company building the Nord Stream II natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Putin said Friday the final stretch of the pipeline would be completed soon, as the US seeks good relations with “key partners in Europe”.

Source: Al Jazeera