President Biden addresses the UN General Assembly in New York: NPR
President Biden will deliver his annual address to world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
LEILA FADEL, Guest:
President Biden is at the United Nations in New York today. He was just giving his annual speech outlining his foreign policy agenda to a global audience, urging action on climate change and supporting democracy around the world. Again support for Ukraine was defending itself against Russia.
(Audio from archive recording)
TODAY JOE BIDEN: If you allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any country secure? I respectfully suggest that the answer is no.
FADEL: There are serious questions about how long US aid can continue. NPR’s senior White House correspondent Tamara Keith is there, and she’s joining us now. Good morning, Tam.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Good morning.
FADEL: So how did President Biden answer that question? And what was he doing?
KEITH: Yeah, he argued that the global community needs to stand up against aggressors like Russia, lest other countries think they can get away with violating the principles as well. which are defined in the UN Charter and the jurisdiction of others. He didn’t say, but the undercurrent here is clearly the relationship between China and Taiwan. Biden said that the US and its allies will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine. This time last year when President Biden spoke at the UN the war in Ukraine was relatively new. But the longer it drags on, the harder it will be politically here in the US to maintain financial and military aid to Ukraine.
FADEL: Yeah, and speaking of that, there’s an unsolicited request to Congress for more funding for Ukraine. What’s up with that?
KEITH: Yeah, so the White House has asked Congress for another $24 billion to support Ukraine in its war effort. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is also speaking at the UN today, and then he will go to Washington later this week to make his own plea for continued funding. White House officials insist there is still a bipartisan coalition to keep the funding coming, but have you seen Congress lately? Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy is facing open threats from his congress to remove him from the presidency. The government is expected to run out of spending authority at the end of the month. And there is no clear path at the moment to pass a budget. Many far-right House Republicans are considering giving Ukraine more money. And so this puts President Biden in this strange and familiar position of standing up again on the world stage and saying, don’t worry, guys. America is good for him – although all signs point to domestic political instability and uncertainty.
FADEL: Well, let’s talk about that weird situation. I mean, how sure can President Biden be that America is back and engaged in the global community when he’s up for re-election in a year and this is his is happening in Congress?
KEITH: Right. He always says it with passion. That’s for sure. America is back. But even he admits that other leaders have shown him skepticism. You know, the 2024 campaign is heating up. And many of Biden’s opponents, including his front-runner, former President Donald Trump, have very different views about the value of US engagement in the world and the truly international institutions that President Biden has spent so much time promoting during his. leadership They don’t even agree on what American democracy should look like. Last night, at a fundraiser on Broadway for his campaign, President Biden made this point. He argued that democracy is literally at stake in this election. And at one point, he said, saying, “Donald Trump and his MAGA Republicans are determined to destroy American democracy.” And then today, you have him at the United Nations, talking about democratic values as a model for the world.
FADEL: What else is on the president’s agenda while he is in New York?
KEITH: He’s meeting with the leaders of five Central Asian countries. He is also meeting the president of Brazil and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
FADEL: NPR senior White House correspondent Tamara Keith, thank you very much for your time.
KEITH: Thank you.
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