On a trip to
Latvia, Biden suggested Trump, who has never held elected
office, did not understand NATO's mutual defense guarantee,
known as Article Five.
"I want to make it absolutely clear to all the people in Baltic
states: we have pledged our sacred honor, the United States of
America ... to the NATO treaty and Article Five," Biden, a
Democrat, said in the Latvian capital.
"The fact that you occasionally hear something from a
presidential candidate in the other party, it's ... nothing that
should be taken seriously," Biden said.
Biden's visit comes amid heightened tensions with Russia in the
region and some nervousness among allies about Trump, who has
suggested he might abandon NATO's pledge to defend all alliance
members automatically if elected.
Both Democrats and Republicans supported the NATO pledge, said
Biden, who made his remarks during an appearance with the
leaders of all three Baltic states in Riga.
"There is continued overwhelming bipartisan commitment in the
United States of America in both political parties to maintain
our commitment to NATO," he said.
Trump is running against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary
Clinton, who has also affirmed her commitment to NATO. Clinton
is ahead in polls.
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the three Baltic states which
regained independence in the early 1990s a half century after
being annexed by the Soviet Union, see themselves on the
frontline of any potential conflict with Russia.
NATO leaders agreed last month to deploy military forces to the
Baltic states and eastern Poland for the first time and increase
air and sea patrols to reassure allies in the region worried
about the threat from Moscow.
"It is important for us that we are ready, all parties, to
confirm our strategic partnership ... and we are sure that no
matter what changes will be after the elections in (the) United
States, their commitments ... to NATO, to (the) Baltic region,
will stay," said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite,
speaking after Biden.
Russia often depicts NATO as an aggressor whose members are
moving troops and military hardware further into former Soviet
territory, which it regards as its sphere of influence.
On Wednesday, Biden travels to Turkey where he will meet
President Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim
before visiting Sweden to discuss Europe's asylum crisis.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Gederts Gelzis; Editing by Alistair
Scrutton and Richard Balmforth)
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