Air Force One carrying US President Joseph Biden Sunday landed at London's Stansted airport, marking the first stop of the Democratic leader's European tour which is to climax at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, where Western allies will discuss support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion, among other issues.
Biden will meet with King Charles III at Windsor Castle on Monday for the first time since the British monarch's coronation, at which he was represented by his wife Jill Biden. Later, the US President is to be welcomed at 10 Downing Street by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Biden and Sunak agreed earlier this year in Washington to an Atlantic Declaration and committed to collaborating on advanced technologies, clean energy, and critical minerals.
The US leader will also discuss Sweden's NATO candidacy with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Biden had said he considers supplying Turkey and Greece with new or upgraded US-made fighter jets as an incentive for Turkey to allow Sweden to join NATO.
To overcome Turkey's reluctance, which criticizes Sweden for its alleged leniency toward Kurdish militant refugees in the Scandinavian country, the US president has mentioned a solution that could involve the modernization of the Turkish F-16 fleet.
On Ukraine, Biden has been adamant. “I don’t think it’s ready for membership in NATO,” Biden said. “I don’t think there’s unanimity in NATO now …in the middle of a war. If the war is going on [and Ukraine was a NATO member], then we’re all in the war. We’re at war with Russia,” since NATO’s charter calls for all its members to defend any individual country when it is attacked.
At the NATO summit, Western leaders will discuss their latest efforts to bolster Ukraine’s fight against Russia along with Sweden’s bid to join the West’s main military alliance. Biden last week hosted Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson at the White House as a show of support for Sweden’s bid. Twenty-nine NATO nations support the bid over the objections of members Hungary and Turkey. Hungary has said it will approve Sweden’s NATO membership bid if Turkey assents. All NATO nations have to ratify the entry of new member countries.
Biden will then head to Helsinki to commemorate Finland's joining NATO in April, effectively doubling the length of Russia's border with the world's biggest security alliance.