Minister Bijleveld positively surprised by new tone American counterpart

NATO has met for the first time since the new US administration took office, led by President Biden. The new US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was present for the first time in the video meeting.

The Dutch demissionary minister of Defence Bijleveld said after the consultation that Austin took a constructive, calm tone, quotes press agency ANP.

The American stressed the importance of unity in the alliance and the commitment of the United States, Bijleveld said. According to the minister, Austin took a more positive tone than the previous US government.

It is also very positive that President Biden has given guarantees on Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, said Bijleveld. That article states that an attack on one Member State is regarded as an attack on all Member States.

The Americans continue to support the NATO standard that all Member States spend 2% of gross domestic product on defence, something Trump insisted on several times during his presidency. For example, Trump announced that he would remove some of the US military from Germany because Berlin did not comply with the defence budget.

‘Knowledge of business’

Bijleveld said Austin spoke on behalf of President Biden. That was different in the previous situation and much more difficult. Then we saw tweets that didn‘t always match what we heard. Trump also lasted several times during his presidency to his NATO allies. He would also have considered taking the US out of NATO.

Bijleveld hasn’t spoken personally with her American colleague yet. He‘s still working on his bubble circles, she said. During the first videoconference he came across as a calm, balanced man. He’s a former military and has a lot of knowledge.

Tomorrow, the Defence Ministers will speak again. This will include the withdrawal from Afghanistan.