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, CNBC reported.
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.
“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.