NewsBiden urges Congress to back Ukraine aid, discusses Gaza crisis

Biden urges Congress to back Ukraine aid, discusses Gaza crisis

President of the USA Joe Biden
President of the USA Joe Biden
Images source: © EPA, PAP | NATHAN HOWARD / POOL
6:28 AM EDT, March 16, 2024

"I call on every member of Congress to stand against Vladimir Putin," said President Joe Biden on Friday during the traditional St. Patrick's Day luncheon with congressmen and the Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar. Biden and Varadkar discussed support for Ukraine and humanitarian aid for Gaza.

The war in Ukraine: the most important information in our live coverage

"I think the overwhelming majority of Congress members are ready to do their part, and I encourage all congressmen in this room to stand against Vladimir Putin. He is a thug," said President Joe Biden during the annual lunch held at the Capitol in honor of St. Patrick's Day.

Biden's appeal to Congress

The President once again called on Congress to adopt the aid package for Ukraine. Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar also encouraged further support for Ukraine.

"Ukraine cannot fall. Together we must stand by it as long as necessary," he emphasized.

Speaking before Biden, House Speaker Mike Johnson - who has not yet allowed a vote on the bill passed by the Senate in February allocating a total of 95 billion dollars for support to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan - pointed out that "stability is threatened in Europe and the Middle East, and our allies and friends, such as Israel and Taiwan, continue to fight for their right to exist."

Johnson announced this week that the House will soon vote on an alternative bill, converting some of the support for Ukraine into loans and leasing military equipment. However, the White House called on Friday for Johnson to bring to a vote the bill that had already been passed by the Senate and would almost certainly be approved by the House.

According to the White House, the war in Ukraine was the main topic of discussions between the President of the USA and the Prime Minister of Ireland. Biden highlighted Ireland's role in providing humanitarian aid and accepting over 100,000 refugees from Ukraine.

The conflict in the Gaza Strip

The leaders also discussed the situation in the Gaza Strip and the need to increase aid deliveries to the Palestinians. After the meeting at the White House, Varadkar criticized Israel's actions, telling reporters that the way Israel uses American weapons "is not self-defense."

Biden, on the other hand, referred to Thursday's speech by Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who harshly criticized the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called for new elections in Israel, and warned that Israel could become a pariah.

The President said that Schumer gave a good speech and "expressed serious concerns shared by many Americans." Biden also indicated that he hopes for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in connection with a new proposal sent on Friday by Hamas.

Although on Friday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected it as absurd, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby assessed it as roughly in line with the overall conditions of previous proposals for a 6-week ceasefire and is "cautiously optimistic" about the prospects.

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