President Joe Biden was a no-show at the opening dinner of the NATO summit Tuesday night in Vilnius, Lithuania, with an official claiming the 80-year-old president had too much work coming up to attend.
Biden “has four full days of official business and is preparing for a big speech tomorrow in addition to another day at the summit,” a U.S. official said, according to the New York Post.
“He wasn’t the only leader who wasn’t there. But last night he thought he didn’t have to attend and then he would have every opportunity to sit with all of his colleagues at length on all of the significant issues of our time,” she quoted Sullivan as saying.
On Wednesday, Biden is due to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as part of the summit’s events, give a speech at Vilnius University and then travel to Helsinki, Finland.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken took Biden’s place Tuesday night at the dinner as leaders of all 31 NATO nations gathered in the capital of Lithuania.
Biden had spent Saturday at his beach home in Rehoboth, Delaware.
On Monday, Biden had appeared publicly confused while meeting with Britain’s King Charles III and reviewing an honor guard at Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England.
The White House said that after heading to his hotel instead of the dinner, Biden made some phone calls to address the floods that have damaged Vermont, according to the U.K. Daily Mail
One of the key issues in the summit is NATO membership for Ukraine, which has desperately trying to join the alliance.
“We will be in a position to extend an invitation to Ukraine to join the Alliance when Allies agree and conditions are met,” NATO said in an official statement, according to the U.K. Independent.
“What we have agreed to is a very substantive package with many different elements that helps to move Ukraine closer to NATO,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, according to the Independent.
Biden has said he opposes admitting Ukraine into NATO at the moment, but said he supports “a rational path for Ukraine to be able to qualify to be able to get into NATO.” according to Fox News.
He did not get into specifics, Fox reported.
Angered at the rejection, according to Fox, Zelenskyy said Ukraine “deserves respect” and said “a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia.”