Brussels’ iconic urinating statue, the Manneken Pis, on Monday (June 14) marked the start of a NATO meeting by waving the military alliance’s flag.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg described the summit, which U.S. President Joe Biden will attend for the first time, as a “pivotal moment”, with allied leaders discussing China and raising concern about Russia’s recent military build-up near Ukraine.
A Belgian living in the U.S., Siegfried De Smedt said the 30-member alliance played an important role in ‘maintaining peace in the World”
“It secures us here in Europe as well as the rest of the World from any enemies that can come to us now and in the future,” said De Smedt, 56.
NATO leaders hope to hear Biden recommit the United States to NATO’s collective defence after his predecessor Donald Trump’s confrontational rhetoric towards allies from 2017 to 2019 at summits created an impression of crisis, envoys said.
“I think dialogue will be a little easier with (U.S. President Joe) Biden,” said French tourist Marlene Thierry, 28.
Before the meeting, French President Emmanuel Macron met his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan to discuss ‘the need to work together on tackling problems in Syria and Libya’, Macron’s office said.
The meeting was welcomed by Jacqueline, a French woman who travelled to the Belgian capital to visit family members.
“I hope this can ease the tensions that exist in France with the Turkish community,” she said.
Ankara and Paris have been at odds over a host of issues in recent months, ranging from Libya, Syria and a dispute over energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean.