Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Assures Europe of Its Support ; New Threats to Region Won't Weaken NATO, Obama Says at Summit

Newspaper article International New York Times

U.S. Assures Europe of Its Support ; New Threats to Region Won't Weaken NATO, Obama Says at Summit

Article excerpt

The president assured alliance partners that threats from terrorism and an aggressive Russia would not deter the United States.

President Obama, acknowledging that the trans-Atlantic alliance faces an unprecedented array of threats from terrorism, migrant flows and an aggressive Russia, has said that "in good times and in bad, Europe can count on the United States -- always."

"We haven't simply reaffirmed" the alliance, Mr. Obama said at a news conference on Saturday. "We're moving forward with the most significant reinforcement of collective defense any time since the Cold War."

Mr. Obama spoke in Warsaw at the end of a NATO summit meeting that illustrated how radically the global security situation has changed since he took office in 2009.

Europe, the anchor of the trans- Atlantic alliance, is battling centrifugal forces unleashed by Britain's vote to leave the European Union. Russia, with which Mr. Obama had tried to cultivate a friendly relationship, continues to be an implacable adversary.

This was the president's last NATO meeting, and the mood was occasionally wistful. At a morning event, he chatted warmly with Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, whose days in office are also winding down. Mr. Obama's fellow leaders showered him with praise and promised to stay in touch. But the challenges facing the alliance are so acute that the tone was for the most part more urgent than reflective.

The message the leaders hoped to project was that the Western alliance remained united despite fraying ties within the European Union, particularly Britain's recent vote to leave it, known as Brexit.

"I think this summit has underlined one very important message," said Mr. Cameron, who after the vote for Brexit, which he had opposed, announced that he will resign by October. "That while Britain may be leaving the European Union, we are not withdrawing from the world, nor are we turning our backs on Europe or on European security."

The participants adopted a security declaration that expanded on an agreement in Wales in 2014. The member nations pledged to "stand together and act together" against an "unprecedented range of security challenges" that include terrorist attacks within Europe, Russian aggressiveness in Ukraine and elsewhere, and instability throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

"It is a summit with a lot of substance, and it is historic because it takes place at a decisive point for our security," said the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

NATO had already agreed to establish battalions of 800 to 1,200 multinational troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, as well as a brigade of four more battalions to be based in Bulgaria and Romania. The battalion in Poland is to be commanded by the United States and composed almost entirely of American forces. …

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