Boris Johnson in plea to stop China ‘Cold War’ as he touches down at NATO summit

Boris Johnson arriving at today’s NATO summit in Brussels (Image: REUTERS)

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Boris Johnson has said the NATO does not want "a new cold war with China" ahead of a key summit of the military alliance today.

NATO leaders are meeting in Brussels and will focus on the security challenges posed by Russia and China.

Joe Biden joining for the first time as US President and will tell Transatlantic allies that America "is back" following four years of turmoil under his predecessor Donald Trump.

Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has called the summit a "pivotal moment" and a "new chapter in our trans-Atlantic relationship" following four years of turmoil with former President Donald Trump.

The behaviour of Russia will feature heavily in talks between leaders at the Nato summit, and while Mr Stoltenberg has played down tensions with China, he is expected to press for a tougher stance on Beijing.

Mr Biden is aiming to reassert America's leadership role on the world stage and will travel from the summit to meet Vladimir Putin in Geneva on Wednesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg bump elbows at today's summit
(Image: REUTERS)

Speaking as he arrived for ministerial summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister said: “I don’t think anybody around the table today wants to descend into a new Cold War with China.

“I don’t think that’s where people are.

“I think people see challenges, they see things that we have to manage together.

“But they also see opportunities and I think that what we need to do is do it together.”

Mr Johnson said the US President would be taking some “pretty tough messages” to the Russian leader.

“I’m always hopeful that things will improve with Russia but… I’m afraid that so far it’s been pretty disappointing from the UK point of view," said the PM.

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“When I saw President Putin I made that very clear, I said ‘Look, you know, we’re ready to do things differently, we are ready to try to have closer relations but you have got to change the way you behave’.

“You’ll remember what happened at Salisbury where innocent members of the public faced the poisoning from Novichok, one woman tragically lost her life.

“That’s no way to behave. Nato allies stood by Britain then and I know that President Biden will be taking some pretty tough messages to President Putin in the course of the next few days.”

A key aim for the US President is to reaffirm his country's ties with NATO allies, after Trump treated the alliance with disdain.

"I want to make it clear: NATO is critically important for US interests in and of itself. If there weren't one, we'd have to invent one," he said shortly after arriving during a meeting with Mr Stoltenberg. "I just want all of Europe to know the United States is there."

Mr Johnson is expected to use the meeting to highlight the way the Covid crisis was exacerbated by security threats – including cyber attacks on the healthcare systems of some alliance members.

He will also back the modernisation programme instituted by Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, saying the alliance must be prepared to face down the challenges of the future.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Stoltenberg said relations with Russia are at the “lowest point” since the end of the Cold War.

He said there is a “pattern of Russian behaviour” from cyber attacks through to the willingness to use military force against neighbours such as Ukraine and Georgia.

“We see attempts to meddle in our political democratic processes, to undermine the trust in our institutions and efforts to divide us. We have to take that very seriously,” he told Times Radio.

“We need to strengthen our cyber defences, we need to exchange intelligence, we need to be vigilant and aware of all these different tools of aggressive actions, military and non-military.”

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace suggested former prime minister Theresa May would be an “excellent” candidate to succeed Mr Stoltenberg when he steps down next year.

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