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Biden strongly defends Nato as he hosts leaders at summit

Via Kayla Epstein, BBC News

Reuters US President Joe Biden speaks at NATO's 75th anniversaryReuters

US President Joe Biden welcomed NATO leaders to Washington DC with a strong speech that appeared aimed at reassuring allies abroad and closer to home that he can withstand an election challenge from Donald Trump.

In a brief but powerful speech at the summit’s opening ceremony, the president declared the military alliance “stronger than ever” as it faces a “pivotal moment” with the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Warning that “autocrats” have “upended the global order,” Biden vowed to increase military aid to Kyiv.

The US president and the leaders of Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Romania are donating Patriot missile systems and other systems to bolster Ukraine’s beleaguered air defenses.

“The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent nation,” Biden said in teleprompter remarks Tuesday afternoon. “Russia will not prevail. Ukraine will prevail.”

Mr Biden spoke for about 13 minutes in a clear voice, a marked change from his faltering tone during last month’s presidential debate with Mr Trump.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress met privately to debate Mr Biden’s ability to lead the party and the mood was “sad”, lawmakers told the Associated Press.

Then on Tuesday, a seventh Democratic member of the House — Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey — publicly urged Mr Biden not to run again, saying the risks were “too high”.

Visiting diplomats also expressed skepticism about Mr Biden’s future, according to reports.

“We don’t see him coming back from the debate,” an unnamed European envoy told Reuters. “I can’t imagine him leading the United States and NATO for another four years.”

Mr Biden’s team has responded by trying to demonstrate that the 81-year-old is still physically fit to handle the demands of the presidency.

The White House credited Mr Biden’s leadership with expanding NATO since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, with Finland and Sweden joining the alliance.

Reuters Joe Biden poses with other NATO leaders in Washington during a meetingReuters

Joe Biden poses with other NATO leaders in Washington

Leaders from 32 member nations are gathering in the US capital for a summit.

Joining them was the UK’s new Prime Minister, Sir Keir Starmer. Before leaving Washington, he said he was pleased to “confirm and reaffirm the Labour Party’s strong, unwavering support for Nato”.

Asked by reporters accompanying the summit about his message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Sir Keir said the meeting “should be seen as a clear and united determination by NATO allies… to stand with Ukraine and resist Russian aggression”.

He say Deadly attack on children’s hospital in Kyiv earlier this week “strengthened resolve and that is a very important but also very tragic backdrop to this summit”.

Sir Keir added that the support package for Ukraine that the UK is seeking to push through at the summit “goes far beyond the level of support that has been offered previously”.

Sir Keir is expected to meet Mr Biden on Wednesday, as well as Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress.

Tuesday’s event is tied to the history of the alliance.

The event was held at the exact site where the original treaty was signed decades ago, something Mr Biden referenced in his speech.

Near the end of his speech, Mr. Biden invited NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to the stage to present him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor.

Biden presents Presidential Medal of Freedom to NATO Commander-in-Chief Stoltenberg

On Tuesday night, Trump, 78, criticized NATO allies during a campaign rally at his golf club in Doral, Florida.

The event was attended by all three of his sons, including youngest son Barron, who attended a Trump rally for the first time, according to his father, and received more applause from the audience than his older brothers Eric and Don.

Trump has repeatedly criticized NATO member states for failing to meet an agreed target of spending at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. Many other NATO countries have now met that target since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Trump told supporters that these countries are contributing “hundreds of billions of dollars” more because as president he warned them “No, I’m not going to protect you from Russia” unless they paid more into the alliance.

Getty Images Trump pretends to swing a golf club at his rally as he challenges Biden to a golf competitionbeautiful pictures

Trump pretends to swing a golf club at his rally as he challenges Biden to a golf match

When Trump made similar comments at a rally in February this year, Mr Stoltenberg said such statements “undermine our entire security”.

But the NATO chief remained silent on the Republican candidate as the summit began on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky told an event held elsewhere in Washington DC that the whole world is “waiting for November”, when the US general election takes place, and he called on American voters to support Ukraine.

Mr Zelensky is expected to meet Mr Biden on Thursday.


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