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Biden to meet with Zelensky at NATO summit – media

US President Joe Biden will reportedly hold a one-on-one meeting with Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky during this week’s NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania as a demonstration of unity amid disagreements over the Western military alliance’s proposed security commitments to Kiev.

The talks will be held on Wednesday on the sidelines of the NATO conference, multiple US media outlets reported on Monday, citing an unnamed White House official. “The meeting will mark a sign of unity, as Zelensky’s attendance at the summit had been in question,” CNN said.

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Media reports suggested earlier on Monday that the Ukrainian president might not attend the summit. Zelensky’s office has not confirmed his attendance, reportedly because NATO members had not made clear what was being promised to support Kiev in its conflict with Russia.

Zelensky has said it would be pointless for him to attend the NATO meeting unless the alliance offered to let Ukraine join the US-led military bloc or provided a clear roadmap for Kiev’s accession. 

“It would be an important message to say that NATO is not afraid of Russia,” the president said in an ABC News interview last week. “Ukraine should get clear security guarantees while it is not in NATO. Only under these conditions, our meeting would be meaningful.”

While Zelensky has conceded that it is not feasible for Ukraine to join NATO while the conflict with Russia is still ongoing, members of the 31-nation alliance have differing views on whether they should make concrete pledges about future accession. The US recently argued that ‘Israel-style’ security guarantees could be offered to Kiev instead of a full-fledged membership. 

Biden will likely discuss US security guarantees with Zelensky in Vilnius, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Sunday. 

Ukraine will not be ready for NATO membership until the conflict with Russia ends, and even beyond that point, Kiev will still need to make reforms before it can join the alliance, Biden said in a CNN interview aired on Sunday.

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