Oroville Mercury-Register

Biden meets Ukraine leader in long-sought visit to the Oval Office

- By Aamer Madhani, Lynn Berry and Eric Tucker

WASHINGTON >> President Joe Biden used his first meeting with a foreign leader since ending the war in Afghanista­n to send the message Wednesday that the United States — unburdened of its “forever war” — is determined to become a more reliable ally to its friends, in this case Ukraine.

Biden played host to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for a long-sought Oval Office meeting and tried to reassure him that his administra­tion remains squarely behind the Eastern European nation.

Biden didn’t mention Afghanista­n in his brief appearance with Zelenskyy before cameras.

But he highlighte­d his concerns about Russian aggression in the region. Biden, in making his case to end the war in Afghanista­n, repeatedly said winding it down would allow the U.S. to put greater focus on combating malevolent acts from adversarie­s Russia and China.

“The United States remains firmly committed to Ukraine’s sovereignt­y and territoria­l integrity in the face of Russian aggression and for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspiration­s,” Biden said.

The Ukrainian leader, who had found himself ensnarled in Donald Trump’s first impeachmen­t, arrived at the White House looking to Biden for increased military aid and backing for his country’s bid for NATO membership.

The meeting was postponed two days while Biden and his national security team were consumed by the American military withdrawal from Afghanista­n. The withdrawal, which concluded Monday, left behind many Afghans who had worked with the Americans and their allies and who now fear Taliban rule. This led to criticism that the U.S. was less than a reliable internatio­nal partner, something Biden was eager to counter.

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