Biden to focus on elections, media as democracy summit wraps

Biden to focus on elections, media as democracy summit wraps

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is trying to shut his two-day digital Summit for Democracy on Friday by shining a highlight on the significance of election integrity, countering authoritarian regimes and bolstering unbiased media.

On the summit’s first day, Biden introduced plans for the U.S. to spend up to $424 million world wide to help unbiased media, anti-corruption work and extra. The initiative got here as he known as on world leaders to work with him to reverse what he known as an alarming diminishment of democracy across the globe.

“Will we allow the backward slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked?” Biden stated Thursday. “Or will we together — together — have a vision … and courage to once more lead the march of human progress and human freedom forward?”

The president is scheduled to ship closing remarks to leaders and civil society teams on Friday afternoon.

Biden didn’t point out both China or Russia by title as he opened the summit. But he has repeatedly made a case that the U.S. and like-minded allies want to present the world that democracies are a much better automobile for societies than autocracies. It is a central tenet of Biden’s international coverage outlook — one which he vowed could be extra outward trying than his predecessor Trump’s “America First” strategy.

Biden underscored that even long-established democracies, just like the United States, have not been immune to the strains.

“Here in the United States we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,” Biden stated.

Thursday’s video gathering drew backlash from the United States’ chief adversaries and different nations that weren’t invited.

The ambassadors to the U.S. from China and Russia, two nations that didn’t obtain invites, wrote a joint essay describing the Biden administration as exhibiting a “Cold-War mentality” that can “stoke up ideological confrontation and a rift in the world.” The administration additionally confronted scrutiny over the way it went about deciding which nations to invite.

Other leaders on the summit delivered their very own remarks on the state of democracy — many prerecorded — typically reflecting on the stress that quickly evolving know-how is having on their nations. They additionally bemoaned the rise of disinformation campaigns aimed toward undermining establishments and elections.

“The democratic conversation is changing,” stated Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. “New technologies and large tech companies are increasingly setting the stage for the democratic dialogue, sometimes with more emphasis on reach than on freedom of speech.”

The summit comes as Biden is urgent Russia’s Vladimir Putin to step again after a large buildup of troops on the Ukraine border that has created rising concern in Washington and European capitals as nicely as Ukraine itself. Biden on Wednesday stated that he warned Putin of “severe consequences” if Russia invaded.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who took half in Thursday’s summit and later spoke by cellphone with Biden, stated on Twitter, “Democracy isn’t a given, it have to be fought for.”

Poland’s Andrzej Duda spoke out against Russia in his address, decrying Moscow and its support of Belarus.

Poland and Western allies have accused Russian ally Belarus of using migrants as pawns to destabilize the European Union in retaliation for its sanctions on his authoritarian regime. Hundreds of migrants, mostly from the Middle East, have flocked to the Belarus-Poland border.

Poland “took on a commitment to be a support for democracy in Eastern Europe,” Duda said. “It is a beautiful task, but it has its consequences. It has made us the target of the Kremlin propaganda.”

Putin made no public comment on the summit Thursday as he took part in his own video call with members of the Kremlin council for human rights.

Biden has said passage of his ambitious domestic agenda at home — the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill he signed into law, as well as the roughly $2 trillion “Build Back Better Act” of social and climate change initiatives moving through the Senate — will demonstrate how democracy can improve people’s lives.

Some advocates also want Biden to focus more on shoring up democracy at home. One early test came Thursday as the House approved the Protecting Our Democracy Act, the third in a trio of bills — alongside the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — largely backed by Democrats. All three are expected to be stalled by Republicans in the Senate.

“Here in the United States, we know that our democracy is not immune from threats,” Vice President Kamala Harris stated in remarks to shut out the primary day of the summit that referenced the rebellion on the Capitol in January. “Jan. 6 looms massive in our collective conscience, and the anti-voter legal guidelines that many states have handed are a part of an intentional effort to exclude Americans from taking part in our democracy.”

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance stated in its annual report that the variety of nations experiencing democratic backsliding “has never been as high” as the previous decade, with the U.S. added to the checklist together with India and Brazil.

Chinese officers have provided a stream of public criticism concerning the summit. They have additionally expressed outrage over the administration inviting Taiwan to participate. China claims the self-governing island as a part of its territory and objects to it having contacts on its personal with international governments.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan declined to attend the convention. In a press release issued forward of the assembly, the international ministry stated, “We worth our partnership with the U.S., which we want to broaden each bilaterally as nicely as when it comes to regional and worldwide cooperation.”

Yet Pakistan’s relationship with the U.S. has been fraught with suspicion on each side. Islamabad has balked at Washington’s often-stated criticism that Pakistan has not been a dependable accomplice within the conflict on terror, accusing it of harboring the Taliban even as that group fought a U.S.-led coalition. Pakistan says it has misplaced 70,000 individuals to the conflict on terror since 2001 and is prepared to be a accomplice in peace however not in conflict.

Other uninvited nations have additionally proven their displeasure. Hungary, the one European Union member not invited, tried unsuccessfully to block the EU Commission’s president from talking on behalf of the bloc on the summit. Last yr, Biden referred to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a “thug.”

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto dismissed the summit as a “domestic political-type of event,” the place nations whose leaders had relationship with Trump weren’t invited.


Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro in Washington, Justin Spike in Budapest, Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow and video producer Liu Zheng in Beijing contributed to this report.

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