The North Atlantic Treaty Organization plans a summit in Brussels "early next year" after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden takes office, according to the alliance's chief.
NATO Secretary General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said no specific date had been set yet for the in-person meeting of government heads of the 30-nation alliance. Biden is due to succeed President Donald Trump on Jan. 20.
"I have invited President-elect Joe Biden to a NATO summit in Brussels early next year," Stoltenberg said on Monday in the Belgian capital during a press conference where he previewed a Dec. 1-2 video conference of the alliance's foreign ministers. "I'm looking forward to working with him."
The NATO summit might take place in May or June, depending on Biden's other overseas travel plans, an alliance official said on the condition of anonymity.
NATO is keen to establish early contact with Biden after the U.S.-dominated alliance was shaken by Trump's vocal allegations that European countries spend too little on defense and his questions about the utility of the transatlantic military bond. Stoltenberg has praised Biden as a "strong supporter" of NATO.
A key decision facing NATO is over its assistance mission in Afghanistan after Trump recently wrong-footed allies by unilaterally deciding to reduce U.S. troop numbers in the war-torn country to 2,500 by Jan. 15. The move has forced partners to scramble to protect the NATO mission in Afghanistan.
Stoltenberg said on Monday that he had an "excellent" phone call with Biden on Nov. 23, Afghanistan featured in their talk and NATO defense ministers will weigh the mission there at a meeting in February.
"The price of staying is, of course, continued military involvement in Afghanistan — price in treasure and in blood," Stoltenberg said. "The price of leaving is the risk of jeopardizing the gains we have made."(c)2020 Bloomberg News Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC