Biden and world leaders meet at 2021 NATO summit

By Zamira Rahim, Melissa Macaya and Ed Upright, CNN

Updated 2348 GMT (0748 HKT) June 14, 2021
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3:51 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

President Biden says the US is "approaching a sad milestone" of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths

CNN
CNN

US President Joe Biden opened his press conference tonight in Brussels by noting that the United States is "approaching a sad milestone" of 600,000 Covid-19 deaths. 

"We made enormous progress in the United States. Much of the country is returning to normal, and our economic growth is leading the world, and the number of cases and deaths are dropping dramatically. But there's still too many lives being lost. We're still averaging in the last seven days the loss of 370 deaths per day — 370 deaths. That's significantly lower than at the peak of this crisis, but it's still a real tragedy. We're approaching a sad milestone. Almost 600,000 lost lives because of Covid-19 in America." 

He pleaded with Americans who haven't gotten the vaccine to get vaccinated "as soon as possible."

"We have more work to do to beat this virus. And now's not the time to let our guard down," Biden said. "Please get vaccinated as soon as possible. We have had enough pain. Enough pain."

3:31 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NOW: Biden holds news conference after attending his first NATO summit as US President

From CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kate Sullivan

US President Joe Biden is speaking to reporters now from Brussels after participating in the 2021 NATO summit.

Biden arrived at the gathering with a vow to reaffirm the United States' commitment to a military alliance his predecessor viewed with disdain. He placed enhanced attention on Russia and China, along with the cyber-threats emanating from both countries.

NATO leaders largely backed Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official present for the talks.

The group agreed in its final statement to provide "transitional funding" to keep the airport open, and Turkey — a NATO member state — committed to keeping troops in the country to safeguard the facility.

A final communiqué issued by the group highlighted the "threat" presented by Russia and the "challenges" posed by China following the meeting on Monday.

Read more about today's summit here.

2:42 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NATO meetings are running long and delaying Biden's news conference

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

A White House official says the delay to US President Joe Biden’s news conference is attributed to the NATO plenary session with leaders running long, as well as all of the one-on-one meetings he conducted on the sidelines of the summit.

“There are a lot of people who want to see him here,” a White House official tells CNN, insisting that nothing has gone awry.

No fresh time estimate was given beyond the “shortly” — which was 30 minutes ago. 

 

1:56 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Biden says he had "very good meeting" with Turkish President Erdogan

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Turkish Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Turkish Presidency/Murat Cetinmuhurdar/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

US President Joe Biden says he's held a "very good meeting" with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Speaking across the table from the Turkish leader, Biden declined to offer any other details on their sit-down, which was expected to be contentious.

Asked by a reporter to repeat himself, Biden said only, "I didn't say anything."

Reporters had been waiting for more than an hour for the photo-op, which was originally scheduled for the start of the meeting. But only official photographers were allowed in at the beginning.

Erdoğan didn't speak during the spray.

A host of topics was expected on the agenda, including counterterrorism, Afghanistan, Syria and human rights.

12:50 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Spain's prime minister says he and Biden talked about Latin America and migration on the sidelines

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool/AP
Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool/AP

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said he had a brief conversation with US President Biden on the sidelines of the summit where he took the opportunity to advance the military and political cooperation between the two countries and to discuss the political and economic situation in Latin America and the impact it has had on migration into the United States.

Sanchez also applauded Biden for re-joining the Paris Climate Agreement and for how Biden was relying “on science to be able to respond to the pandemic and the evolution Covid-19 situation in his country.”

The Spanish prime minister said Biden had inspired him and other progressive leaders when he won the elections in the United States. Sanchez added that so far, his administration had been able to live up to its promises.

“President Biden, as a progressist leader, inspired many of us when he won the elections some months ago and I think the first steps he has taken as President, in his administration, corroborate and certify that progressive inspiration that he gave to other progressive governments such as that of Spain,” Sanchez told journalists at a news conference after the NATO Summit on Monday.

 

12:38 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NATO agrees cyberattacks could amount to armed attacks and lead to invocation of mutual self-defense clause

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

 In an aerial view, fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station on May 13, 2021 in Woodbine, Maryland. The Colonial Pipeline has returned to operations following a cyberattack.
 In an aerial view, fuel holding tanks are seen at Colonial Pipeline's Dorsey Junction Station on May 13, 2021 in Woodbine, Maryland. The Colonial Pipeline has returned to operations following a cyberattack. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The leaders of the 30 NATO countries agreed “that the impact of significant malicious cumulative cyber activities might, in certain circumstances, be considered as amounting to an armed attack,” an assessment that could lead to the invocation of the organization’s mutual self-defense clause, Article 5.

The countries “(reaffirmed) that a decision as to when a cyber attack would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis,” according to a joint statement released during the NATO leaders’ summit on Monday.

 “We will make greater use of NATO as a platform for political consultation among Allies, sharing concerns about malicious cyber activities, and exchanging national approaches and responses, as well as considering possible collective responses. If necessary, we will impose costs on those who harm us,” the joint communique said.

Speaking to the press on Sunday, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that “the notion is that if someone gets hit by a massive cyberattack, and they need technical or intelligence support from another Ally to be able to deal with it, they could invoke Article 5 to be able to get that,” but underscored it would be “on a case-by-case basis.”

The NATO joint communique noted that “Cyber threats to the security of the Alliance are complex, destructive, coercive, and becoming ever more frequent.”

“This has been recently illustrated by ransomware incidents and other malicious cyber activity targeting our critical infrastructure and democratic institutions, which might have systemic effects and cause significant harm,” it said.

Some more background: The United States has been hit with a spate of cyberattacks in recent weeks, some of which are believed to have been caused by malign actors in Russia. The joint communique denounced Moscow’s “malicious cyber activities; and turning a blind eye to cyber criminals operating from its territory, including those who target and disrupt critical infrastructure in NATO countries.”

The allies said that in order to face the “evolving” challenge of cyber attacks, they on Monday “endorsed NATO’s Comprehensive Cyber Defence Policy, which will support NATO’s three core tasks and overall deterrence and defence posture, and further enhance our resilience.” 

“Reaffirming NATO’s defensive mandate, the Alliance is determined to employ the full range of capabilities at all times to actively deter, defend against, and counter the full spectrum of cyber threats, including those conducted as part of hybrid campaigns, in accordance with international law,” the joint communique said.

It also noted that NATO as an organization will “continue to adapt and improve its cyber defences” and that they will “further develop NATO’s capacity to support national authorities in protecting critical infrastructure, including against malicious hybrid and cyber activity. We will ensure reliable energy supplies to our military forces.”

12:10 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

Russia "cannot veto" Ukraine's accession to NATO, secretary general says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says it’s not up to Russia to decide whether or not Ukraine is allowed into NATO, explaining that Moscow has no “veto” power over such a decision.

“Every nation has the right to choose its own path,” he told journalists after the NATO summit. “The message is that it is for Ukraine and the 30 allies to decide when Ukraine can become a NATO member.”

“Russia, of course, cannot say, they cannot veto what neighbors can do,” Stoltenberg concluded. 

The NATO secretary general used the example of his own country, Norway, as well as the Baltic nations, whose accession to NATO also did not please Russia.

“We will not return to an age when we had big powers who decided what neighbors could do,” he said. “This is about fundamental principles of accepting the right of every nation to decide, so it’s for the 30 allies and Ukraine to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership.”

12:19 p.m. ET, June 14, 2021

There is "no way" NATO can ignore China's economic and military rise, secretary general says

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

Olivier Hosle/Pool/AP
Olivier Hosle/Pool/AP

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says there is “no way” NATO can ignore China’s economic and military rise, highlighting its investment “new destructive technologies” that have the potential to change the nature of warfare. 

“China is soon to be the biggest economy in the world, they already have the second biggest defense budget and hold the biggest navy,” Stoltenberg told journalists after the summit. “They are investing heavily in new modern capabilities, including by investing in new destructive technologies, such as autonomous systems, facial recognition and artificial intelligence and putting them into different weapons systems that are really in the process of changing the nature of warfare in a way we have hardly seen before.”

“This matters for our security,” Stoltenberg concluded. “There’s no way to deny that so the question is how we address that.”

The NATO secretary general also said he was pleased with the fact that there was now a “united and clear position” on China, which had not been the case. 

11:57 a.m. ET, June 14, 2021

NATO leaders agree to provide funds to maintain Kabul International Airport

From CNN's Vasco Cotovio

This July 2015 file photo shows the Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
This July 2015 file photo shows the Hamid Karzai International airport in Kabul, Afghanistan. Massoud Hossaini/AP

NATO leaders have agreed to provide “transitional funding” to ensure that the international airport in Kabul continues to operate, given its significance to the landlocked country of Afghanistan. 

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan's connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the North Atlantic alliance leaders said in the communiqué. “We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners.”

“We are working on exactly how to do it but there is a strong commitment from NATO,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said after the meeting, adding that Turkey has been playing a key role in discussions around the issue. 

 The alliance will also retain a Senior Civilian Representative Office in the Afghan capital, in addition to providing “training and financial support to the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, including through the Afghan National Army Trust Fund.”

“We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists,” NATO leaders also said in the communiqué.