Biden to offer ‘full-throated’ defense of Ukraine at United Nations General Assembly, White House says

(NEW YORK) — President Joe Biden will on Tuesday issue a defense of American leadership abroad and reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine, during a high-profile speech at the United Nations, according to senior Biden administration officials — as the 2024 presidential election ramps up at home.

In particular, Biden will reiterate U.S. support for revamping how the World Bank and other multilateral development banks work with low- and middle-income countries, the officials said. The push is an implicit counterweight to China’s longtime investment in developing nations around the world.

The president’s Tuesday speech to the United Nations General Assembly will also tackle climate change and present an American commitment to the United Nations Charter and supporting human rights around the world, the administration officials told reporters Monday.

“I think you’re going to see a full-throated defense of support for Ukraine and why that’s not important, not just to our national security interest but the whole idea of sovereignty and the U.N. Charter itself,” White House spokesman John Kirby said in a Monday interview with MSNBC.

Biden’s presence on the world stage will come one week after he returned from a trip to India and Vietnam, where he pushed for development bank reform at a meeting of “Group of 20” leaders in New Delhi, India, and in Hanoi, Vietnam, agreed to significantly upgrade U.S.-Vietnamese relations.

It also comes as the White House and Biden’s campaign seek to present him as a global leader providing results for the American leaders — hard at work — in contrast, they say, with former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican primary presidential election. He will meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House on Thursday as both men push Congress to approve $24 billion more in funding for Kyiv over the objections of some House Republicans.

While in New York, on Wednesday, Biden will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to the White House.

The officials declined to share more information about the long-delayed meeting with Netanyahu or explain why it is taking place on the margins of the annual General Assembly meeting rather than at the White House. Netanyahu returned to power late last year, and Biden has pointedly taken nearly nine months to schedule a meeting with him.

Israeli prime ministers often meet with U.S. counterparts much more quickly; Biden, though, has called Netanyahu’s government the most extreme in decades and has offered measured criticism of the Israeli prime minister’s handling of historic pro-democracy protests in Israel.

In New York, on Tuesday, the officials said, Biden will also meet with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as with five Central Asian leaders — from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And on Wednesday, Biden will also meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the officials said.

“President Biden is going into this year’s General Assembly with the United States confident,” an official said. “We have strong allies and new partners; we have a vision for institutional reform at the UN, at the World Bank and elsewhere; and we have initiatives to deliver on infrastructure, on health, on climate and other global public goods.”

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