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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Biden forgets NATO’s new member

In yet another gaffe, the US president suggested that Norway, one of the bloc’s founders, joined only last year

US President Joe Biden has confused two Nordic countries, Finland and Norway, as he touted the latest wave of NATO expansion amid the Ukraine conflict.

Speaking at the campaign event in Reno, Nevada, on Tuesday, Biden recalled a conversation with former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the autumn of 2023, a few days before his death.

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According to the US president, the veteran diplomat told him that many European countries “looked over [their] shoulder at Russia with some dread” until the US set its foot on the continent. Biden also claimed that Kissinger praised him for “strengthen[ing] NATO like it’s never been strengthened before.”

“You’ve united Europe in a way. You’ve increased NATO and the border of NATO from bringing in Sweden and Norway.” He further quoted Kissinger as saying, “it’s changed the world.”

Biden was apparently referring to Finland, which shares a 1,340 km border with Russia, that joined Sweden in applying for membership in the US-led military bloc shortly after the start of the Ukraine conflict. Finland became a NATO member in April 2023. Sweden only joined earlier this month, after dealing with grievances from Hungary and Türkiye.

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Norway, meanwhile, was one of NATO’s founding members at the bloc’s inception in 1949.

The US president has been ridiculed for recurring gaffes. Earlier this month, speaking to MSNBC, Biden claimed that Washington “shouldn’t have gone into Ukraine,” when in fact he was alluding to Iraq and Afghanistan. Late last month, he also mistakenly referred to Chinese leader Xi Jinping as “the head of Russia.”

Biden last week secured enough delegates in the Democratic primaries to clinch his party’s nomination for this November’s presidential election in which he is almost certain to face archival and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

At the same time, a recent survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 63% of American adults are not very or not at all confident in Biden’s mental capability to serve effectively as president. Trump also did not fare well, with 57% voicing concern about his mental capacity.