President Biden skipped the NATO leadership summit’s opening dinner late Tuesday in Lithuania and headed straight for his hotel, with White House staffers citing the president’s busy schedule for his absence.
A U.S. official said Mr. Biden “has four full days of official business and is preparing for a big speech tomorrow in addition to another day at the summit.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken took Mr. Biden’s place at the dinner. The event brought together the leaders of all 31 NATO member countries, although it was not clear if Mr. Biden was the only head of state to miss the event, which also was attended by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The missed meal marks the third time Mr. Biden, 80, has skipped a world leader dinner during an international trip. He skipped dinner with leaders in Indonesia last year and again in Japan in May.
Despite concerns about his age, health and workload, Mr. Biden bragged to Turkish President Recep Erdogan that he would win reelection in 2024 and the two leaders would be working together for the next five years.
Mr. Biden would be 86 by the end of a second term if he is reelected in 2024.
Although the White House cited Mr. Biden’s workload as the reason for the snub, the president spent Saturday on the beach near his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.
On Tuesday, Mr. Biden met with the presidents of Lithuania and Turkey and NATO’s secretary general, and attended the first day of the meeting.
He is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Mr. Zelenskyy before delivering an address at Vilnius University and then flying to Finland.
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