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NATO Summit 2024 Opens in Washington as Alliance Faces Internal Tensions and Trump’s Shadow

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched its 75th-anniversary summit in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday with leaders from 32 nations gathering.

President Joe Biden, hosting the event at the historic Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, spoke about the organisation’s growth, saying,

“Today, NATO is more powerful than ever, 32 nations strong,” Biden declared, adding, “The fact that NATO remains the bulwark of global security did not happen by accident.”

The key summit issues explored include ongoing support for Ukraine, defense spending targets, and the organization’s potential expansion. Biden announced additional air defense support for Ukraine, stating,

“The war will end with Ukraine remaining a free and independent country.”

Meanwhile, former President Donald Trump’s previous criticisms of NATO and recent statements have raised concerns among allies. At a recent campaign rally, Trump recounted telling its members, “No, I will not protect you from Russia” unless they increased their financial contributions.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg remained diplomatic despite Trump’s comments, focusing instead on the alliance’s resilience.

“NATO has never been, and is not, and will never be, a given,” Stoltenberg said. “We have done so successfully for 75 years. I’m confident that we can do so also in the future.”

The summit unfolds against the backdrop of U.S. domestic politics, where some Democrats are still expressing doubts about Biden’s leadership. Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey publicly called on Biden not to run for re-election, saying “the stakes are too high” with Trump campaigning for a return to the White House.

European diplomats also voiced concerns. One unnamed envoy told Reuters,

“We don’t see how he can come back after the debate. I can’t imagine him being at helm of the US and NATO for four more years.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, scheduled to meet Biden later in the week, emphasized the global significance of the upcoming U.S. election, saying “the whole world is waiting for November.”

Despite these challenges, the summit aims to project unity. NATO is establishing a new command to ensure long-term military aid to Ukraine, even if U.S. support wavers under a potential future Trump administration.
The gathering continues through Thursday.

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