Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden arrives back at Air Force One as he prepares to depart Harrisburg International Airport on July 07, 2024 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: As the Nato summit began in Washington on Tuesday, all eyes were on US President Joe Biden who hoped to convince allies at home and abroad that he could still lead.

The summit, to reaffirm the alliance’s strength in its 75th year, faces the prospect of being overshadowed by domestic issues - calls for Biden to withdraw from the race for a second term, French President Emmanuel Macron’s power base weakened by recent elections, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz struggling with his party’s poor European Parliament results.

The summit’s focus remains on Biden, who, at 81, is the oldest Nato leader. Initially hoping to emphasise his role in restoring allied unity post-Trump, Biden now faces intense scrutiny over his capacity to run for the White House again. He will host a late dinner and hold a press conference, providing opportunities for critics to assess his performance closely.

Read more

Earlier, Biden sought to quell Democratic infighting over his presidential campaign, reaffirming his determination to stay in the race and challenging dissenters to end talk of his removal from the ballot.

“I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump,” Biden wrote in a two-page letter to Democratic lawmakers, released by his campaign.

Biden sent the letter, made an unscheduled call-in appearance on MSNBC, and spoke to donors on Monday as members of Congress returned to Washington for the first time since his debate performance sparked concerns about his ability to defeat Trump and serve another four years.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for Women, Irene Fellin (L), speaks during the NATO Women, Peace, and Security Reception at the US State Department in Washington, DC, on July 9, 2024, during the 2024 NATO Summit. Image Credit: AFP

At the summit, Ukraine will be hoping for additional aid. Despite pledges to support Ukraine, plans for long-term aid have stalled, and President Volodymyr Zelensky’s aspirations to join NATO remain distant.

Zelensky has called for more decisive support, including additional Patriot air-defence systems.
Despite these calls, Nato members are unlikely to grant Zelensky everything he seeks. While new security guarantees and some air defence equipment will be offered, a formal invitation to Nato remains off the table.

The UK’s new Labour Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, arrives in a relatively strong position but has cast doubt on his long-term defence spending commitments.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in his final summit as NATO leader, downplayed concerns about alliance unity, asserting NATO’s enduring strength despite political changes. The Biden administration, highlighting increased defence spending among alliance members, remains optimistic.

However, the impact of internal divisions will be a critical question for the summit, with experts noting that while NATO can survive European fractures, internal US strife poses a greater threat to its relevance.

- with inputs from agencies