Biden celebrates 80th anniversary of Normandy landings

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France — President Biden will join world leaders in Normandy on Thursday to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a somber setting where he plans to link the historic struggle to defeat the Nazis to war modern. daily struggles against authoritarianism.

While Biden’s speech on Thursday will be addressed to a global audience – including more than two dozen heads of state and government who will be in attendance – it comes against the backdrop of a fierce domestic political battle between the president and his predecessor, Donald Trump. who spoke at the same event five years ago.

In his speech marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day, Trump praised the veterans who stormed the beaches of Normandy in 1944, but did not offer similar praise for the global alliances born from the Second World War. Although Biden is unlikely to name Trump during his speech, he plans to offer unequivocal support for the world order that the Republican frontrunner has trashed, according to senior administration officials, some of whom have spoken on condition of anonymity to have an overview of the evolution of the situation. remarks by the president.

Such a message is particularly relevant given the war in Ukraine, said national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who noted that the NATO alliance has expanded during Biden’s term.

“Today, in 2024, 80 years later, we see dictators once again trying to defy order, trying to march in Europe,” he told reporters on Wednesday, adding that “the nations freedom-loving people must come together to oppose this, as we have done.” “

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The president, who arrived in Paris on Wednesday morning and spent the day behind closed doors, plans to begin his visit to Normandy by greeting World War II veterans who participated in the D-Day landings, some of whom are over 100 years old.

He will then deliver a speech at the D-Day commemoration ceremony, during which he plans to compare the fight against the tyranny of World War II to modern efforts to end Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assault on ‘Ukraine.

Later Thursday, Biden will join first lady Jill Biden for a wreath-laying at the Normandy American Cemetery. Finally, the Bidens will attend the international ceremony at Omaha Beach, where several senior dignitaries – including French President Emmanuel Macron – are also expected to pay tribute to the troops who helped carry out the largest naval, air and land assault ever. Despite numerous casualties, the operation helped make the U.S. military the world’s premier fighting force and deepened global alliances that have lasted for eight decades.

The celebration of this military triumph comes against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, where Russia has made progress in recent months after more than two years of fighting. The high cost of the war has put pressure on politicians in the United States and Europe and has at times strained relations between Washington and its European counterparts.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend the events in Normandy, giving him the opportunity to argue for additional military support for kyiv ahead of next week’s G7 summit in Italy.

Biden has highlighted his administration’s record of building alliances amid the war in Ukraine as one of the key selling points for his re-election, as he seeks to draw a stark contrast with Trump. In an interview with Time magazine, Biden said Trump “just wanted to abandon” U.S. alliances and suggested the former president would eventually pull the country out of NATO if he returned to the White House.

“The decisions we make over the last two years, over the next four years, will determine the future of Europe for a long time to come,” Biden said during the May 28 interview. “This is why we cannot let NATO fail. We must build it both politically and economically.”

Biden plans to return to Normandy on Friday to deliver a speech to the American people. That speech, the White House said, will focus on “the importance of defending freedom and democracy.”

Olorunnipa reported from Paris.

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