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After The G-7 Summit, Biden Is Meeting With Allies At NATO's Summit

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

President Biden has made his way from England, where the G-7 leaders gathered this weekend, and is now in Brussels for a NATO summit. The G-7 meeting was the first one held in person in two years. It concluded with a traditional pact, this one a pledge to work together to combat the pandemic and climate change and a rising China. In a meeting with Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO summit, President Biden said the coalition was essential to America and praised the secretary-general for his leadership. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith joins us now. Good morning, Tam.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning, Sarah.

MCCAMMON: So before we get to the specifics of what was agreed to here, what was the overall tone and tenor of this meeting like between the leaders of these seven nations?

KEITH: So it was friendly, and it was different. This is a new president, and he was welcomed. President Biden was welcomed by these other leaders of leading democracies in a way that they never felt comfortable with former President Donald Trump. There was always a sense that they were walking on eggshells with former President Trump. And that was definitely not the vibe that came from this meeting. Biden has consistently said that his message was America is back, and then you heard similar praise from people like French President Emmanuel Macron. And at a concluding news conference yesterday, Biden said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I felt a genuine sense of enthusiasm that America was back at the table and fully, fully engaged.

MCCAMMON: Fully engaged - so Tam, what issues were they engaging on? And we mentioned these pledges. What kind of agreements did the allies make?

KEITH: Yeah. So the White House called these pledges, which are released in what's known as a communique as unusually substantive. There were three main items - the pandemic, climate change and China. On the pandemic, there was a pledge to donate 1 billion vaccine doses aimed largely at the world's poorest nations. Also, though, there was an insistence that the World Health Organization continue to study the origins of the coronavirus. This comes as the lab leak theory has gained at least some more credence recently. On climate, there was an agreement over targets to cut emissions, including the 50% reduction by 2030 that is President Biden's goal for the U.S. - and a pledge to end government support for new coal power generation.

MCCAMMON: And what about China? As I understand it, there was some disagreement there.

KEITH: There was some disagreement about exactly how to talk about China, exactly what the greatest concerns were related to China. President Biden has identified that country as a top strategic challenge for the U.S. and its democratic allies. But exactly how to talk about it was a challenge there. In the end, China was cited specifically in the communique, including pledges for support for infrastructure for - in developing countries to compete, compete with China's Belt and Road initiative. They're calling it Build Back Better World, which is a play on President Biden's plan in the U.S. on infrastructure - interesting that the other nations picked up that terminology. There was also a desire to respond to China's nonmarket economic practices and also its human rights abuses in Xinjiang province.

MCCAMMON: That's one summit. Now there's another, a larger group here, NATO. What might we expect Biden's goals to be for this one yet -

KEITH: Yeah, 30 nations, only three hours for this meeting - and President Biden has already, in the first moments there, expressed his full-throated support for NATO and Article 5. That is the mutual defense provision in NATO. And that's a stark contrast to former President Trump, who, at his first NATO meeting, refused to explicitly state his support for Article 5 and was repeatedly critical of it. China and Russia are both on the agenda.

MCCAMMON: All right. That's NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. Thanks, Tam.

KEITH: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF STAN FOREBEE'S "REFLECTIONS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.