US, allies have no plan to expand Nato in Indo-Pacific, says No 2 State Department official

The United States and its European partners have no intention of expanding Nato’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region, a senior Biden administration official said on Monday, claiming Russian and Chinese disinformation campaigns were behind such reports.

US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said all parties involved in dialogues with Nato “understand exactly what the nature of our conversations are about and the limitations of what is being discussed”.

The senior diplomat’s remarks came at the launch event of a report published by the United States Institute of Peace on partnerships between the military bloc and Indo-Pacific countries.

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Campbell said Beijing and Moscow were using disinformation campaigns to fan misperceptions of the bloc’s expansion.

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“We are not proposing that Nato explore out-of-area contingencies in the Indo-Pacific,” he added. “That is far from what we believe the current dialogues are about.”

“There is no real proposition of some combining force that would integrate countries in the Indo-Pacific into some formal self-defence, Article-5 structures,” Campbell said, referring to the clause in the transatlantic security alliance’s treaty stipulating a collective military response if one member is attacked by a hostile power.

“It’s fair to say that China and Russia have for years, not recently, but for years, had a drumbeat of very negative information [on the issue].”

The deputy secretary of state also criticised China for making it appear “in a very negative way” that any move by the US, its allies or partners tied to security in the Pacific could mean “Nato exportation”.

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Stating there was no intention to cement military ties in a Nato-like agreement, Campbell said partnerships between the blocs were important to advance common goals such as cybersecurity and countering disinformation campaigns.

He believed that cooperation went beyond issues pertaining to China, noting that relations with Beijing came up during such conversations.

“In the past, when you talked about a country in Europe’s Indo-Pacific strategy, that was largely how they thought about China,” said Campbell.

“What we are seeing now in Europe is a broad interest in the region as a whole – advancing relations in technology with Japan and South Korea, markets in Southeast Asia, how to think about engaging India, and yes, how to have a responsible relationship with China as well.”

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