The White House on Tuesday confirmed reporting that U.S. President Joe Biden will head to Brussels next week to meet with European leaders about Russian President Vladimir Putin's ongoing and deadly war on Ukraine.
"While he's there, his goal is to meet in person face-to-face with his European counterparts and talk about, assess where we are at this point in the conflict in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia," said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. "We've been incredibly aligned to date."
"That doesn't happen by accident," she noted. "The president is a big believer in face-to-face diplomacy. So it's an opportunity to do exactly that."
During a March 24 meeting at NATO headquarters, Biden plans "to discuss ongoing defense efforts in response to Russia's unprovoked and unjustified attack on Ukraine, as well as to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to our NATO allies," Psaki said.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg tweeted Tuesday that "we will address Russia's invasion of Ukraine, our strong support for Ukraine, and further strengthening NATO's deterrence and defense. At this critical time, North America and Europe must continue to stand together."
Plans for the event came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Tuesday that Ukraine "must admit" it won't join NATO. Ukrainians "understand this and rely on themselves and our partners who help us," he added.
While Biden is in Belgium, Psaki said, "he will also join a scheduled European Council summit to discuss our shared concerns about Ukraine, including transatlantic efforts to impose economic costs on Russia, provide humanitarian support to those affected by the violence, and address other challenges related to the conflict."
The council's two-day meeting is also scheduled to start on March 24.
UPDATE: The US Secretary of Defense is already in Brussels:
Republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).