The Latest: US man jailed in Russia urges Biden to intercede
The Latest on the NATO summit taking place in Brussels:
MOSCOW — The family of Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on a disputed espionage conviction, has released a statement from him calling for President Joe Biden to push for his release during the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an audio file distributed by Whelan’s family on Monday, he says: “I implore you to bring this appalling case of hostage diplomacy to an end. I remain innocent. No crime of espionage occurred. The secret trial, without evidence, proves those facts.”
He made the statement in a May 30 telephone call with his parents, the family said. Whelan was arrested in Moscow in December 2018 and later sentenced to 16 years in prison. He claims he was in Russia only as a visitor.
BRUSSELS — NATO leaders agree that China poses a constant security challenge and is working to undermine the global rules-based system, and they are worried about how fast it’s developing nuclear missiles.
In a summit statement Monday, the leaders said that China’s goals and “assertive behavior present systemic challenges to the rules-based international order and to areas relevant to alliance security.”
While the 30 heads of state and government avoid calling China a rival, they did express concern about its “coercive policies,” the opaque ways it is modernizing its armed forces and its use of disinformation.
They called on Beijing “to uphold its international commitments and to act responsibly in the international system, including in the space, cyber, and maritime domains, in keeping with its role as a major power.”
But the leaders also said they “welcome opportunities to engage with China” on things like climate change.
The statement, endorsed Monday at their summit in Brussels, lays out the military organization’s stance on China for the first time. Diplomats say it was one of the hardest parts of the statement to draft.
LONDON — China’s Embassy in the U.K. reacted sharply Monday to the Group of Seven’s post-summit statement that called out China’s “nonmarket policies and human rights abuses.”
The embassy challenged the leaders of the world’s largest industrial nations for “distorted” remarks that “slandered China and arbitrarily interfered in China’s internal affairs.’’
“This serious violation of the basic norms of international relations exposed the sinister intentions of a few countries, such as the United States,’’ an unnamed embassy spokesperson said in the statement. “We are strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this.”
The G-7 leaders agreed to call on Beijing to respect human rights in Xinjiang, the remote western region where Chinese authorities are accused of committing serious rights abuses against the Uyghur minority, and in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong.
The statement came after a push by U.S. President Joe Biden, who wanted to persuade fellow democratic leaders to present a more unified front in its relations with Beijing.
BRUSSELS — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the revival of a dialogue between NATO members Turkey and Greece to resolve long-standing disputes will serve “stability and prosperity” in the region.
Speaking at a German Marshall Fund think tank event held inside the NATO headquarters complex on Monday, Erdogan lamented, however, what he said was a lack of support by Turkey’s NATO allies in its fight against terrorism. It was a veiled reference to Turkey’s disappointment with U.S. military support for Syrian Kurdish fighters, who Ankara argues are inextricably linked to a decades-long Kurdish insurgency in Turkey.
“Turkey is on the front line in the fight against terrorism in all relevant international platforms, especially NATO,” Erdogan said, adding that some 4,000 Islamic State group fighters were “neutralized” in Turkish cross-border operations.
“Turkey is the only NATO ally which has fought face-to-face and gave his young sons martyrs for this cause,” Erdogan said. “Unfortunately, we did not receive the support and solidarity we expected from our allies and partners in our fight against all forms of terrorism.”
Last summer, a longstanding dispute between Turkey and Greece over boundaries and rights to natural resources in the eastern Mediterranean flared anew after Ankara sent energy research vessels into waters where Greece asserts jurisdiction.
Diplomats from the two countries have held two rounds of talks in recent months for the first time in five years, while the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey also held reciprocal visits.
“I believe that reviving the channels of dialogue between (Turkey) and our neighbor and ally, Greece, and the resolution of bilateral issues will … serve the stability and prosperity of our region,” Erdogan said.
BRUSSELS — President Joe Biden has met with the leaders of three Baltic nations at the NATO summit in a move to reassure them of U.S. support before his Wednesday summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.
The White House says Biden met Monday with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia, President Egils Levits of Latvia, and President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania and “underscored strong U.S. support” for their security.
The White House added: “The four leaders committed to further strengthening our political, military, and economic partnerships, including working together through NATO to address challenges posed by Russia and China.”
BRUSSELS — French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted that he wants to “move forward” with Turkey toward a demanding and respectful relationship, after meeting with the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Both men talked Monday on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Brussels. It was their first meeting since the dispute between the two countries reached its peak in October after Erdogan questioned Macron’s mental health.
Macron said he wants all NATO allies to make a clear commitment to the military organization’s values, principles and rules, according to the French presidency.
Both men discussed Libya and Syria issues, the Elysee said. Macron has notably accused Turkey of flouting its commitments by ramping up its military presence in Libya and bringing in jihadi fighters from Syria.
Macron also highlighted that France’s secularism respects all religions, including Islam. The French presidency said a “clarification” was needed in response to Erdogan’s tough criticism of Macron’s attitude toward Islam and Muslims, as the French government proposed a law to fight Islamist radicals.
BRUSSELS — Italian Premier Mario Draghi made a not-so-subtle dig at former U.S. President Donald Trump in welcoming Biden to NATO and back into the European fold.
“This summit is a continuation of yesterday’s G7 and is part of the process of reaffirming, of rebuilding the fundamental alliances of the United States that had been weakened by the previous administration,” he said. “Think that President Biden’s first visit is to Europe and try to remember where President Trump’s first visit was?
“We are here to reaffirm these alliances, but also to reaffirm the importance of the European Union in all of this: a stronger European Union means a stronger NATO,” he added.
Trump’s first trip was to Saudi Arabia.
BRUSSELS — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says NATO leaders do not see China as an adversary in the same way that the military organization views Russia, but that they must come to terms with the Asian giant’s growing influence.
Johnson told reporters at a NATO summit in Brussels Monday that China is “a gigantic fact in our lives and a new strategic consideration for NATO.”
He says “I don’t think anybody around the table today wants to descend into a new Cold War with China.”
He says the leaders of the 30-nation alliance “see challenges, they see things that we have to manage together, but they also see opportunities, and I think that what we need to do is to do it together.”
NATO leaders are set to endorse a communique later laying out their view of China and how its rising influence and the security challenges it poses should be managed.
BRUSSELS— President Joe Biden is reaffirming the U.S. commitment to NATO’s mutual-defense pact as he makes his first visit to the alliance since taking office.
After meeting Monday with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg shortly arriving at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Biden says the U.S. takes Article 5, which guarantees that an attack on one NATO nation is considered an attack against all, “as a sacred obligation.”
He adds: “I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there. The United States is there.”
Biden said the alliance is “essential for America” and said he looked forward to discussing challenges from Russia and China with other leaders at the daylong summit.
BRUSSELS — Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo says NATO allies are looking to put the past behind them, after four stormy years under the Trump administration and infighting between member countries.
De Croo said at a NATO summit Monday that “we’re coming out of turbulent times, where we had major disagreements on a lot of things that are really at the basis of this alliance.”
He says that “I think now we are ready to turn the page.”
Trump routinely berated other NATO countries for not spending enough on defense and even threatened to pull the U.S. out of the world’s biggest security organization.
Rows have also simmered between Turkey, France and Greece over aggressive Turkish military actions in the Mediterranean and Ankara’s contentious energy exploration work in waters off Cyprus.
BRUSSELS — German Chancellor Angela Merkel says Russian disinformation is one issue that will be discussed at Monday’s NATO summit.
Merkel said as she arrived at the gathering that “hybrid challenges” are a growing issue — “cyberattacks, and particularly with a view to Russia, of course, disinformation campaigns.” She added that “many allies in NATO, including Germany, are affected.”
Merkel said the summit also will discuss the situation in Ukraine, “where we see great challenges, of course,” and the situation in Belarus.
U.S. President Joe Biden will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva later this week.
BRUSSELS — NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the 30-nation military alliance aims to set aside the divisions of the Trump era and focus on the security challenges posed by Russia and China.
Stoltenberg says that NATO leaders are meeting Monday “at a pivotal moment for our alliance, and today we’ll open a new chapter in our trans-Atlantic relationship.”
His remarks in Brussels came before he chairs a first NATO summit involving U.S. President Joe Biden.
NATO was roiled for four years under President Donald Trump. Many allies are hoping to secure Biden’s assurances that the United States will stand by them in times of conflict.
Stoltenberg says the leaders also want to reaffirm NATO’s “dual-track approach” to Russia involving military deterrence, like the deployment of alliance troops in the Baltic countries and Poland, and dialogue.
After a series of meetings in Brussels, including with EU leaders, Biden heads to Geneva for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Stoltenberg played down the level of tensions with China, but he says NATO should take a firmer approach toward Beijing.
He says that “we are not entering a new Cold War, and China is not our adversary, not our enemy. But we need to address together as an alliance the challenges that the rise of China poses to our security.”