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Will the NATO Washington summit deliver for Ukraine?

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Will the NATO Washington summit deliver for Ukraine?

Leaders are meeting in Washington DC for the NATO summit, where the support of Ukraine and boosting defence industry are among main topics of discussion.

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Will the US deliver enough for Ukraine in the coming months? And how are EU diplomats preparing for former President Donald Trump’s possible return to the White House? We asked Euronews correspondent Shona Murray, currently in Washington following the NATO summit.

With EU ambassadors in Brussels quizzing the Hungarian presidency over Viktor Orban’s trips to Russia and China, we also have an exclusive extract of a Euronews interview with Hungarian minister for European affairs János Bóka.

On the summer theme, Radio Schuman takes you to Europe’s least visited places most worth seeing.

Radio Schuman is hosted and produced by Maïa de la Baume, with journalist and production assistant Eleonora Vasques and audio editing by Zacharia Vigneron. The music is by Alexandre Jas.

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Swing-state Democrat Casey walks a fine line between his own campaign and turmoil surrounding Biden

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Swing-state Democrat Casey walks a fine line between his own campaign and turmoil surrounding Biden

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey has a fine line to walk.

He and other Democrats fighting to hang on to hotly contested Senate seats have seemed jittery about the turmoil surrounding President Joe Biden after his disastrous debate performance. In many cases they’re trying to minimize any damage to their own races by saying as little as possible about it in public.

But with control of the Senate on the line, the drama is an unavoidable and unwelcome development for Democrats. They are defending far more Senate seats than Republicans this year, including in the presidential swing states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nevada and Arizona.

Incumbents in Republican-leaning Montana and Ohio appear nervous, too, and there’s an unexpected challenge in the Democratic stronghold of Maryland from former Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

The turmoil surrounding Biden is especially delicate for Casey, long seen as one of the safest Democratic bets in battleground races. He has defended Biden, but in the halls of the Capitol this week, even Casey brushed aside questions about how Biden’s predicament might affect his race.

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“I’ve got work I got to do as a senator and as a candidate,” he told The Associated Press. “I’m not going to be a pundit or an analyst. Obviously voters can make up their own minds.”

What to know about the 2024 Election

Casey grew up on the same street as Biden in Scranton. Their families have known each other for decades, and he’s campaigned with Biden countless times, including this year. Biden — a Delaware resident but a Pennsylvania native, as is first lady Jill Biden — has long claimed Pennsylvania as his own.

When Casey’s mother died last year, Biden came to Scranton to pay his respects.

On Sunday, Casey greeted Biden in Philadelphia on the president’s campaign swing through Pennsylvania, attending worship services with him at a predominantly Black church there. Answering reporters’ questions during his own campaign events, Casey has maintained that he supports Biden and was not concerned about his debate flop.

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Still, Casey’s backing has lacked the gusto of Pennsylvania’s other Democratic senator, John Fetterman, who told Biden supporters in Pennsylvania that Biden is “the only person that’s ever kicked Trump’s ass in an election.”

Other Democratic incumbents have been less hesitant to set themselves apart from Biden, before and after the debate. Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen of Nevada, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Jon Tester of Montana and Sherrod Brown of Ohio have offered little public support for the president since the debate.

Tester and Brown — prime GOP targets in states that Republicans have dominated in recent years — have been distancing themselves from Biden for quite some time.

For Tester, a centrist lawmaker representing a fossil fuel-friendly state, steering clear of national Democrats has long been crucial to his political survival. Most recently, he pushed back against the administration over new pollution rules that could hurt Montana’s energy industry.

Yet Tester has also said that the president himself was doing a good job — comments that his opponent, Republican Tim Sheehy, resurrected in an online campaign ad after Biden’s shaky debate performance.

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In a statement this week, Tester adopted a more skeptical stance. He said Biden must “prove to the American people — including me — that he’s up to the job.”

Montana voter Kathryn Natzel, a self-described moderate Democrat, supports Tester for his position on women’s reproductive rights and is clear about her reasoning.

“Don’t tell me what to do with my family,” she said.

But the 29-year-old stay-at-home mother from Billings worries younger voters who cringe at Biden’s age could also turn against Tester as he seeks a fourth term.

“It’s kind of a point against him for younger people,” Natzel said, noting that Tester’s political career spans almost her whole life.

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Brown, the Ohio incumbent, was asked repeatedly about Biden on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. The subject of the call was federal rules for hydrogen hubs, but the questions focused heavily on Biden.

Brown acknowledged there are “legitimate questions” about whether Biden should continue his campaign. The senator wouldn’t answer when asked what he told colleagues privately about Biden or if he thought having Biden on the ballot hurts other Democrats, including him. He even refused to answer directly when asked if he supported the president.

“I’m not talking about politics on this call,” Brown said. “I’ve said enough.”

On a campaign swing through Wisconsin, Baldwin told reporters that the “bottom line” is that it’s Biden’s decision on whether to run and that she’s heard a lot from voters and “passed those onto the White House.”

In Pennsylvania, for the most part, Casey has brushed aside questions about how Biden’s predicament might impact his race. But his opponent, former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, is highlighting Casey’s support for Biden. In digital ads, McCormick’s campaign calls Casey the “one man who will never leave Biden.” Clips of Biden calling Casey “one of my best buddies,” “one of my closest friends” and “Bobby Casey” drive home the point.

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When he has talked about it, Casey has acknowledged that Biden had a bad night. But at a recent appearance with Biden in Harrisburg, e asserted that voters would ultimately side with Democrats, even in the race for the presidency. He said it comes down to whether candidates support reproductive rights for women, working families rather than billionaires, and voting rights over an insurrection.

“I do think people across the country, they have real a sense of what’s at stake in this race,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Brown reported from Billings, Montana.

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NATO's Stoltenberg sidesteps Biden, Trump spat, champions nations hitting spending targets

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NATO's Stoltenberg sidesteps Biden, Trump spat, champions nations hitting spending targets

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As the NATO summit drew to a close Thursday, signs the contentious U.S. presidential race was just kicking off became increasingly clear as President Biden and former President Trump used the international event as an opportunity to bolster their campaigns.

Speaking with Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refused to credit just one man when it comes to the jump in GDP defense spending that NATO nations have made in 2024. Twenty-three of the 32 allies have now met their 2% commitments. 

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“Former President Trump had a very clear message that the European allies had to pay more. This has been a message from consecutive U.S. administrations, and this message has had an impact,” Stoltenberg said. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg refuses to get caught up in President Biden-Donald Trump tiff.  (Getty Images)

ZELENSKYY SAYS UKRAINE CAN’T WIN WAR UNLESS US LIFTS LIMITS ON STRIKING MILITARY TARGETS IN RUSSIA

Trump and Biden have pointed to the record number of NATO nations hitting their GDP defense spending commitments, first pledged in 2006, as significant accomplishments of their corresponding presidencies.

Trump has been vocal in saying he forced NATO allies to pony up during his tenure. 

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The number of allies to meet their spending commitments did increase to nine in 2020 from the five nations who met their commitments in 2016 when he entered office. That number dropped to six once he left in 2021.

The greatest jump in NATO defense expenditure occurred this year when, for the first time ever, 23 of the 32 nations under the alliance met their spending agreements.

Supporters of Trump point to the war in Ukraine, not the Biden administration, as the main driving force behind this jump in European defense spending.

Canada, which has garnered years of scrutiny for its apparent refusal to meet its defense spending commitment, announced Thursday it would finally fulfill its 2% spending pledge by 2032. 

But it is unclear if all the alliance is truly satisfied with this promise, particularly as smaller NATO nations have not only met their agreements but spend well beyond the 2% limit, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, all of which share a border with Russia.

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The eight other countries that fall short of their spending goals are Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain. Iceland is exempt from the 2% commitment as it does not have a standing military.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speak during a press conference at the NATO summit in Washington, D.C., July 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

ZELENSKYY SAYS PUTIN ‘HATES’ BIDEN AND TRUMP, TIME FOR ‘STRONG DECISIONS’

Several international officials expressed concern this week that the 2% spending commitments agreed upon nearly two decades ago no longer reflect the realistic needs of the alliance in the face of increasingly aggressive authoritarian regimes like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. 

“We must be clear-eyed about the challenges ahead, and yet not allow fear to make us waver. We are at an inflection point. The choices we make now will decide the future of Ukraine, Europe and this alliance,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said Thursday. “Ukrainians clearly understand the existential nature of this war.

“The rest of us — unfortunately — are still battling with the obstacles of our own creation. We still have to change our peacetime mentality and finally make our spending on defense reflect the threat we face.”

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In an interview with John Roberts, the co-anchor of “America Reports,” Finnish President Alexander Stubb noted, “I would actually like to give Trump credit because I think he was right on the 2% limit. And, look, in 2014, out of the allies, only three reached that level. I think in 2018 it was something like ten. Now it’s 23. Would that have happened if Trump hadn’t pushed for it? I don’t think so. Would it have happened without circumstance? Probably not.”

U.K. Defense Secretary John Healey, who was appointed just one week ago after a landslide election for the Labour Party, said the new administration would be working to increase NATO spending commitments.

“I think everyone will draw encouragement from the fact that, for the first time, we’ve now got 23 of the 32 nations meeting that 2%. We’re pushing towards 2.5%,” Healey said in reference to the U.K.’s current spending. “I think any assessment of the growing threats that we face and the global instability suggests that all NATO nations are going to need to do more than simply 2%.”

On Thursday, Biden championed other efforts he’s made to strengthen NATO, like adding Finland and Sweden to the alliance. 

“Foreign policy has never been his strong point. And he seems to have an affinity to people who are authoritarian,” Biden said in reference to Trump.

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Trump and Biden side by side photo

Donald Trump challenged President Biden to a golf match and vowed to donate $1 million to charity if he loses. (Getty Images)

Speaking at a news conference following the NATO summit, Biden told reporters, “I’m not having any of my European allies come up to me and say, ‘Joe, don’t run.’ 

“What I hear them say is, ‘You’ve got to win. You can’t let this guy come forward. He’d be a disaster. He’d be a disaster.’” 

When pressed by Fox News about sentiment toward the U.S. presidency among allied nations, Stoltenberg said, “NATO is the most successful alliance in history because we have been able to stay out of domestic politics.

“It’s not for NATO to have any opinion about who is going to be elected as next president or prime minister in an allied country.”

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Pakistan court acquits former PM Imran Khan, wife in unlawful marriage case

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Pakistan court acquits former PM Imran Khan, wife in unlawful marriage case

Islamabad court says that the appeals of both the former prime minister and wife Bushra Bibi ‘are accepted’.

A court in Pakistan has acquitted former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife on charges of unlawful marriage, according to his party and lawyer.

Khan, 71, and his wife, Bushra Khan, also known as Bushra Bibi, were sentenced to seven years, days before Pakistan’s election in February.

At the time, a court found them guilty of breaking Islamic law by failing to observe the required interval between Bibi’s divorce from a previous marriage and her marriage to Khan.

But Islamabad Additional District and Sessions Court judge Afzal Majoka announced in court on Saturday that the “appeals of both Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi are accepted”.

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A spokesman for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said the charges had been “dismissed”, while Khan’s lawyer, Naeem Panjutha, posted on X, that the couple “are acquitted”.

However, Khan remains locked up after a court this week cancelled his bail over accusations he incited riots by his supporters in May 2023. His wife, Bushra, is also in jail and it is unclear when she will be released.

Earlier this month a UN panel of experts found Khan’s detention as arbitrary, adding that it “had no legal basis and appears to have been intended to disqualify him from running for political office”.

“Thus, from the outset, that prosecution was not grounded in law and was reportedly instrumentalised for a political purpose,” it said, calling for his immediate release after nearly a year in jail.

Candidates loyal to Khan won the most seats in the national election, but were kept from government by an alliance of military-backed rival parties.

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Khan served as prime minister from 2018 to 2022, when he was ousted by a no-confidence vote after falling out with the military establishment, which wields huge influence over civilian politics.

In opposition he waged a campaign of defiance against the top generals, who directly ruled Pakistan for decades of its history, even accusing them of an assassination attempt that wounded him.

But the former cricket star’s comeback campaign was hobbled by scores of legal cases, which analysts say were likely brought at the behest of the military establishment.

Khan was first briefly arrested in May 2023, sparking nationwide unrest from PTI supporters, some of which targeted military facilities.

The government and military cited the attacks as justification for a sweeping crackdown on PTI, which saw its senior leadership decimated by arrests and defections.

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An anti-terrorism court in the eastern city of Lahore on Tuesday refused to bail him as police investigate his alleged role in the unrest, despite the fact he was behind bars at the time.

Surviving the crackdown

PTI candidates were forced to stand as independents in February 8 elections, which had been repeatedly delayed amid political chaos.

Khan’s arrest and conviction for graft back in August 2023 meant he was barred from standing for office himself, confined to a cell in Adiala Jail south of the capital Islamabad.

Despite that, candidates loyal to PTI secured more seats than any other party.

Nonetheless they were blocked from power by a broad coalition of parties considered more pliable to the influence of the military.

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Polling day itself was marred by allegations of vote-tampering amid a nationwide mobile internet blackout Islamabad said it orchestrated over security concerns.

Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan protest outside the court in Islamabad in June to demand his release and that of his wife, Bushra Bibi [File: Farooq Naeem]
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