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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

NATO is ‘malicious poison’ – former Australian PM

Paul Keating has argued that the military bloc should remain confined to Europe and the Atlantic and not try to expand into Asia

NATO has no place in Asia and should stick to its original focus, that is the security of the Transatlantic region, former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has argued. The Labour politician, who served in office from 1991 to 1996, also warned against attempts to “circumscribe” China.

In his statement published on Sunday, Keating appeared to refer to a recent report in Politico, which claimed French President Emmanuel Macron had blocked NATO’s plans to establish a liaison office in Japan.

Read more: Ukraine ‘deserves’ NATO membership – Erdogan

The former premier lauded the French head of state for “doing the world a service” by apparently emphasizing the military bloc’s focus on Europe and the Atlantic.

According to Keating, the alliance’s very existence past the end of the Cold War “has already denied peaceful unity to the broader Europe.”

Exporting such “malicious poison to Asia would be akin to Asia welcoming the plague upon itself,” he insisted. The former prime minister warned that NATO’s presence on the continent would negate most of the region’s recent advances.

Keating went on to describe NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as the “supreme fool” on the international stage who is conducting himself like an “American agent.” 

He cited a comment Stoltenberg made back in February when he called for the West not to repeat the “mistake” it had made with regard to Russia, suggesting it should work to contain China.

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The former Australian leader noted that the NATO chief conveniently ignored the fact that “China represents twenty per cent of humanity and now possesses the largest economy in the world.” He added that Beijing, unlike Washington, “has no record of attacking other states.”

Over the weekend, Politico cited an anonymous Elysee Palace official who claimed that Paris is against NATO expansion beyond the North Atlantic. “NATO means North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” the French presidential staffer reportedly emphasized.

Back in May, the Japanese ambassador to the US, Koji Tomita, revealed that his country was working toward opening a NATO liaison office in Tokyo, which would become the bloc’s first in Asia. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed the plans to Japanese lawmakers, noting that Tokyo did not intend to join the US-led organization.

Commenting on the news, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning advised NATO against “extending its geopolitical reach.” The diplomat pointed out that the “Asia-Pacific does not welcome bloc confrontation or military blocs.”