US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will launch a European charm offensive on his first official trip to Brussels on Tuesday, with the aim of building ties with NATO allies and the EU.
Washington’s top diplomat will attend a two-day meeting with NATO foreign ministers and hold talks with EU leaders as he tries to repair ties strained under former US President Donald Trump.
“Revive alliances and repair conditions, these are the stated goals of Antony Blinken’s trip to Brussels,” said JowharWashington correspondent Kethevane Gorjestani about Blinken’s trip to Brussels, where the US top diplomat is expected to discuss issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic. climate change, terrorism and challenges from countries such as China, Iran and Russia.
Gorjestani said Blink’s visit would also serve “as an opportunity to show that the Biden administration is ready and eager to flip through Donald Trump’s” America First “policy.
But she said some countries, such as Poland, Hungary and Turkey, which all had good ties with Biden’s predecessors, “may not be as welcoming”.
High on NATO’s agenda is the future of the Alliance’s 9,600 missions in Afghanistan, following Trump’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops by May 1.
Allies are waiting for the new US leader Joe Biden to make a decision on whether to stick to that date, but no concrete announcement is expected from Blinken.
“There are no easy choices and at present all alternatives remain open,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a news conference.
“The security situation is difficult and we will take all necessary measures to keep our troops safe.”
Biden said last week that it would be “tough” for Washington to meet the looming deadline.
This led to outrage from the Taliban, who warned that the United States would be “responsible for the consequences”.
NATO allies have said they are willing to stay in Afghanistan longer, if Washington decides to stay as well.
There are about 2,500 US troops in the country and US support is crucial for the NATO mission to continue.
“We went in together. We will adapt as we have done over the years. And when the time is right, we will go together, said US Secretary of State Philip Reeker.
Last year’s agreement meant that the Taliban had pledged to work for peace and reduce violence, but the United States has complained that talks have stopped and bloodshed has erupted.
Washington is encrypting to spread new impetus in a peace process that has dragged on, and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin paid an unannounced visit to Kabul on Sunday.
The United States and its allies are desperate to avoid seeing Afghanistan slip back into being a haven for terrorist groups, two decades after intervening in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
“To revitalize alliances”
Blinken’s visit to Brussels aims to reassure Biden that the United States hopes to strengthen the “transatlantic partnership” after the Trump years.
Washington says it will “hold an important foreign policy speech focused on its commitment to rebuilding and revitalizing alliances” in Belgium.
NATO is looking at papers on divisions in the 72-year-old alliance, but a number of challenges remain, including strengthening defense budgets and clashes with NATO member Turkey.
Trump harassed leading nations like Germany for not taking the weight when he pressured them to increase defense spending to two percent of gross domestic product.
Despite the marked change in tone, the new US government is expected to continue to hold on to other members to do more to share NATO’s economic and military burden.
Within the EU, Blinken will discuss pressing challenges, including Russia and China, with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.
Washington is anxious to engage Brussels in a united front of democracies against the rising power in Beijing.
On Monday, the two sides, along with Britain and Canada, took the first step towards coordinated action, with synchronized sanctions on China’s aggregation of the Uighur minority.
( Jowharwith AFP)