The US and the European Union show off unity around Ukraine and the Middle East | International
The United States and the European Union wanted to show off unity at their summit held this Friday in Washington in the face of the gloomy global panorama in which the war in Ukraine continues and Israel's ground campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip seems about to begin. Loop. In their meeting at the White House, the president of the United States, Joe Biden; the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the president of the European Council, Charles Michel, have underlined their support for kyiv. But they have not managed to unblock the disagreements between both allies on trade issues, although Washington has given the go-ahead to extend its exemptions to tariffs on steel and aluminum and the talks will continue.
In a speech before beginning the meeting, which is the second in the White House during Biden's term, the US president stressed that the two blocs were together "to support the great people of Ukraine and to face economic challenges." “And they will come together again to support Israel after the attacks by the radical Palestinian militia and to establish trade standards with China,” he added.
The White House summit, initially scheduled to address trade differences between the two economic blocs, has been dominated by events in the Middle East. As the meeting began, the presidential office sent the United States Congress a request for funds for 105 billion dollars (almost 100 million euros), the majority of which—61.4 billion—will be used to arm Ukraine so that can recover the territory occupied by Russia. Another 14 billion will be used to equip Israel in its fight against Hamas.
While the meeting was taking place, the United States received news of the release of two American women, mother and daughter, part of the hostages that Hamas has been holding since its October 7 incursion into Israel. In a subsequent statement, Biden expressed his satisfaction and assured that he will not give up until the rest of the prisoners are also released. The militia holds up to 250 captured people of various nationalities. “From the first moments of the attack, we have worked day and night to free Americans captured by Hamas, and we have not relaxed our efforts to secure the release of those who remain,” the president noted.
In his opening remarks, Biden referred to humanitarian aid to the Strip, one of his priorities in the crisis as the war between Israel and Hamas has evolved. This week, during his visit of less than eight hours to Tel Aviv, he reached an agreement with the Government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the passage of twenty trucks to transport water, medicine and food to the population of 2.3 million. of people.
According to the American president, the shipment of humanitarian aid will be able to enter Gaza in the next 24 or 48 hours. “I have the commitment of the Israelis and the Egyptian president (Abdel Fatah Al Sisi) that the crossing will be opened. We have to repave the road, it was in very bad condition… I think that between the next 24 and 48 hours the 20 trucks will enter,” he declared.
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The president had spoken by phone with Netanyahu this Friday, according to the White House in a statement. The two leaders discussed plans to bring humanitarian aid to the Strip from Egypt, according to the presidential office. Furthermore, the head of state stressed that Israel must “respect the laws of war, including the protection of civilians,” in the open conflict against Hamas.
In their joint session, Von der Leyen expressed her gratitude to Biden for his visit to Tel Aviv this week, where he managed to get Israel to accept humanitarian entry into the Gaza Strip. “It is important to show solidarity with the victims of the worst attack on Israel since the Holocaust. “Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with humanitarian law,” the German policy stressed. And she also assured that “events in the Middle East will not distract us from our rock-solid support for Ukraine.” Michel, for his part, highlighted that “more than ever, the world needs a strong US-EU alliance to address these challenges.”
Both leaders later met separately with the US president. Michel, who had arrived first in the West Wing of the White House, also spoke first with Biden. Von der Leyen, for his part, held a dialogue with the head of state during a walk through the Rose Garden. None of the three made statements at the end of the summit.
Behind the good words was the lack of progress in the trade disputes that have dragged on since the mandate of President Donald Trump (2017-2021). “Sometimes we have differences,” admitted the president of the European Council. “That's why we are here: to cooperate, to find solutions that serve companies and workers.” In the joint statement after the meeting, the EU and the US point to “progress” in the negotiations to guarantee access to critical minerals.
The United States had canceled tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from Europe on the condition that before the end of this month they reached an agreement on measures to curb excess capacity in non-market economies, such as China, and to promote clean steel. Washington hopes that Brussels will impose tariffs on imports of cheap steel from the Asian giant, which it believes are flooding the market. The EU points out that it must carry out an investigation in accordance with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
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