Joe Biden invites Pakistan to ‘democracy summit’ alongside 110 countries
WASHINGTON: United States President Joe Biden has invited around 110 countries to a virtual summit on democracy in December, including major Western allies and Pakistan, India and Iraq, to “focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies,” confirmed a list posted on the US State Department website.
The “December 2021 Summit” will take place online on December 9 and 10 ahead of an in-person meeting at its second edition next year.
“On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden will host a virtual summit [The December 2021 Summit] for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector. The summit will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies and will provide a platform for leaders to announce both individual and collective commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad,” said the US State Department.
It said, “For the US, the summit will offer an opportunity to listen, learn, and engage with a diverse range of actors whose support and commitment is critical for global democratic renewal. It will also showcase one of democracy’s unique strengths: the ability to acknowledge its imperfections and confront them openly and transparently, so that we may, as the United States Constitution puts it, form a more perfect union.”
“Leaders will be encouraged to announce specific actions and commitments to meaningful internal reforms and international initiatives that advance the Summit’s goals. These pledges will include domestic and international initiatives that counter authoritarianism, combat corruption, and promote respect for human rights.”
The meeting was long advertised, but the guest list — published Tuesday on the State Department’s website — will be closely scrutinized.
A move bound to anger China
Biden has invited also Taiwan to the December 2021 Summit, a move bound to anger China, which is not on the list.
Unsurprisingly, America’s main rivals China and Russia are not on it. But the United States did invite Taiwan, which it does not recognize as an independent country but holds up as a model democracy.
China baulks at any use of the word “Taiwan” that lends a sense of international legitimacy to the democratic self-ruled island, which Beijing claims as part of its territory and has vowed to one day seize — by force if needed.
The US move is guaranteed to further inflame tensions between the two superpowers.
India, often called “the world’s biggest democracy,” will be present despite increasing criticism from human rights defenders over democratic backsliding under Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Turkey did not make the list
Turkey, a NATO ally of the US whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was dubbed an “autocrat” by Biden, did not make the list.
In the Middle East, only Israel and Iraq were invited. The traditional Arab allies of the US — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are all absent.
Biden also invited Brazil, which is led by controversial far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.
In Europe, Poland is represented, despite recurring tensions with Brussels over respect for the rule of law, but Hungary’s far-right Prime Minister Viktor Orban is not. On the African side, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Niger are invited.
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