President Joe Biden landed in London late Sunday to start a trip where he’ll try to sooth relations after skipping the coronation of King Charles before joining a NATO summit meeting while facing blowback over transferring deadly new munitions to Ukraine.
It’s just one part of his journey, where the White House has telegraphed that the signature event will be a speech in Vilnius about maintaining uniformly confronting Russian aggression in Ukraine, and while he must navigate diplomatic splits over the status of Ukraine and Sweden, who are each seeking to join the powerful military alliance.
Biden told CNN in an interview broadcast as he set off on his journey that Ukraine was not ‘ready for membership’ in NATO.
‘I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,’ he said.
He noted that NATO members are committed every inch of each other’s territory, while war is raging inside Ukraine.
‘If the war is going on, then we’re all in war,’ he said.
President Joe Biden landed in London Sunday for a trip that will take him to a NATO summit in Lithuania after he meets King Charles and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak
He said he spent a great deal of time trying to hold the alliance together, and that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was confident he could try to break the alliance.
‘So, holding NATO together is really critical,’ Biden said.
Biden and allies will confront tough issues regarding Ukraine, after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in an ABC interview that delays in provided needed arms ‘will lead to more lives lost.’
Zelensky is pushing for speedy delivery of F-16 fighter jets, after Biden gave a green-light to providing cluster munitions. That move is drawing blowback from allies, and even key Democrats.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he had ‘real qualms’ about Biden’s move to send the widely-banned weapons to Kyiv’s armed forces.
‘It could give a green light to other nations to do something different as well,’ he told Fox News.
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It is the first stop on a trip that will take Biden to three countries
President Joe Biden greets Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, on a trip where he will spend less than 24 hours in Britain
President Joe Biden is greeted by Karen Pierce, the British Ambassador to the United States, left, Jennifer Tolhurst, Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, center, and Jane Hartley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, right
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The UK, Spain, Canada and New Zealand have all slammed the move to send the widely-banned munitions to the war-torn country with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying he ‘discouraged their use.’
The president was set to touch town at London’s Stansted airport a few months after dispatching first lady Jill Biden to attend Charles’ coronation. That came on the heels of comment at a fundraiser in May where he said he previously visited Northern Ireland ‘to make sure the Brits didn’t screw around’ in the peace process.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre dodged a question Friday about why he decided not to attend the coronation, and why his current trip appears to be a downgrade for a planned official state visit.
The White House has underlined that Biden also will visit Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and that it will be his sixth visit with the conservative PM during half a year.
The White House has announced just a few events on Biden’s schedule.
‘I don’t think there is unanimity in NATO about whether or not to bring Ukraine into the NATO family now, at this moment, in the middle of a war,’ Biden told CNN
Speaking with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Biden said Ukraine needs to end its war with Russia before admittance into NATO
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wants and expects to be admitted to NATO and wants the summit to produce a ‘clear signal’ on where the request lies
After meeting Sunak at 10 Downing Street, Biden will take part in a ceremonial arrival ceremony at Windsor Castle, where he will review members of the Royal guard.
Then, after traveling in his multi-car motorcade, he’ll participate in a meeting billed as a ‘climate engagement’ with the king, philanthropists and investors. Before the sun sets he’ll leave London for Vilnius, for a high-stakes NATO summit
The alliance is already split over admitting new Sweden, after Finland joined in April following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Standing in the way is Turkey, who has complained that Sweden hasn’t done enough to crack down on the PKK, a group it brands as terrorists.
‘I’m hopeful. Matter of fact, I’m optimistic,’ Biden said.
With the heads of Turkey and Sweden set to meet Monday in Vilnius, Biden suggested a solution could involve improving Turkey’s fighter jets.
Biden praised NATO’s decision to extend Jens Stoltenberg’s tenure as Secretary General. He is accused of blocking former British Defense Minister Ben Wallace from the post
President Joe Biden is set to meet King Charles for the first time since he was crowned. He met Prince Charles at the COP26 summit in Glasgow
‘Turkey is looking for modernization of F-16 aircraft. And Mitsotakis in Greece is also looking for some help. And so what I’m trying to, quite frankly, put together is a little bit of a consortium here where we’re— strengthen NATO in terms of the military capacity of both Greece as well as Turkey and allow Sweden to come in. But it’s a … it’s in play. It’s not done,’ Biden said.
Biden is also facing blowback from allies on his decision to reverse course and provide cluster munitions to Ukraine in its defensive war against Russia.
‘The Ukrainians are running out of ammunition,’ Biden said, in an interview filmed on a day his administration described the weapons as a ‘bridge.’ Many allies have banned the munitions, but the U.S. and Ukraine are not among them.
For his last stop, Biden heads to Helsinki, Finland, where he will welcome the newest member to the alliance, in a move that will send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. He will meet President Sauli Niinistö and other Nordic leaders.