Biden welcomes world leaders in Washington DC ahead of crucial Nato summit

Just days after taking the keys to Number 10, the new prime minister is in Washington to meet with world leaders at the Nato summit

World leaders including new UK Prime Minister Keir Starmer have started gathering in Washington DC ahead of the 75th Nato summit where Ukraine and US President Joe Biden's health are expected to be the main focal points.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also touched down in the US capital on Monday evening, in the shadow of Russian missile attacks that killed at least 42 people.

Heads of state from Europe and North America are expected to make announcements over the alliance’s military, political and financial support for Ukraine over the three-day event.

In an address to fellow leaders on Tuesday night, Biden announced plans to supply new air defences to Ukraine.

As concerns about the president's health continue, he told world leaders that “Nato is more powerful than ever” - highlighting the expansion of the alliance under his watch.

In his 13-minute remarks - which only saw him stutter a couple of times - Biden did not reference the domestic political drama swirling around him.

In an address to fellow leaders, Biden opened the Nato's 75th summit by announcing plans to supply new air defences to Ukraine

Prime Minister Starmer and his wife, Lady Starmer, were photographed holding hands as they landed in Washington DC overnight.

Speaking to ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana ahead of the event, Starmer said the aim of the summit is to stamp out Russian aggression and provide support for Ukraine.

The summit is also expected to set out clear steps of progression towards membership in Nato.

The matter caused a diplomatic spat last year ahead of the summit in Vilnius, with Zelenskyy fuming that it was “unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership” to Nato.

This year, officials said there has been far greater communication with the Ukrainians in the lead up to the summit, but there will likely not be any advance on membership until the country is no longer at war.

The setting of the summit also lies against a tumultuous American political landscape as Biden tries to show his strength on the world stage and Donald Trump gears up for a possible return to office in November.

The meetings will serve as a public test of host Biden’s health and cognitive capacity as the president seeks to quell concerns.

Biden is scheduled to hold a solo news conference on Thursday where he can expect a volley of questions about his mental fitness for office.

The effects of the president’s advancing age are not just an issue for his political future; they are now the West’s problem given that he is the last defence against a stunning comeback by Trump, who spent his first term berating Nato allies and cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump has suggested he would let Moscow “do whatever the hell they want” and would not honour Nato’s sacred Article 5 mutual defence principle if he considered that a member state had not met the alliance’s defence spending guidelines.

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