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Biden Launches Democracy Summit with Pledge of $690 Million in Program Support WGN Radio 720

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden kicks off the second Democracy Summit with a promise that the United States will spend $690 million to strengthen democracy programs around the world.

The Biden administration wants to use the two-day summit, which begins Wednesday, to focus on “technology works for democracy, not against it,” according to senior government officials. . About 120 global his leaders have been invited to participate.

Biden has frequently said that the United States and like-minded allies are at a crucial time when they need to prove that democracies can defeat dictatorships. The summit, to which Biden has pledged as his 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, marks the end of his administration’s efforts to forge deeper alliances and push authoritarian-leaning countries toward at least modest reforms. has become an important part.

Biden and South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol released a joint statement at the opening ceremony of the summit, saying, “Strengthening transparent and accountable governance based on the consent of the governed is a fundamental modern imperative. There is,” he said.

The new funding will focus on programs that support free and independent media, fight corruption, strengthen human rights, advance technology to improve democracy, and support free and fair elections.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the summit, said the administration has also reached agreement with 10 other countries on guidelines on how governments should use surveillance technology.

The surveillance technology agreement comes after Biden earlier this week signed an executive order restricting the US government’s use of commercial spyware tools that have been used to monitor human rights activists, journalists and dissidents around the world. will be split.

It has been a turbulent 15 months since Biden hosted his first democracy summit in December 2021. Countries have emerged from the coronavirus pandemic, and Russia has launched an invasion of Ukraine. It was the largest war in Europe since World War II. Biden has also repeatedly spoken out about China’s military and economic influence in the Indo-Pacific and beyond, and is also entwined with the Chinese government.

“Around the world, we see dictators violating human rights and suppressing basic freedoms. Corruption — and corruption undermines young people’s confidence in their future. Secretary of State Antony Brinken questioned whether democracy can solve the problems that matter most to their lives and livelihoods, at a virtual event before the summit on Tuesday.

The previous summit was hosted solely by the United States. This time, after Chinese and Russian ambassadors criticized the first summit, accusing Biden of creating global divisions with his Cold War mindset, he recruited four co-hosts: Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia. bottom.

Still, some countries don’t want to be between Washington and Beijing.

Pakistan has announced it will skip the summit despite receiving an invitation, as it did in 2021.

The Biden administration also expanded the invitation list. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Gambia, Honduras, Côte d’Ivoire, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mozambique and Tanzania have been extended invitations to this year’s summit after being delisted in 2021.

The first day of the summit will take place in a virtual format, followed on Thursday by a hybrid gathering in each host country attended by representatives from government, civil society and the private sector.

Costa Rica will focus on the role of youth in democratic systems. The Dutch take on media freedom. South Korea is turning to corruption.Zambia focuses on free and fair elections

America is no stranger to the challenges facing democracies. This includes deep polarization and pervasive misinformation.

Lies spread by then-President Donald Trump about the 2020 presidential election led to his supporters convincing a majority of Republicans that Biden was not legally elected and to harassing and killing election officials. It has been used to normalize the intimidation and legitimize protests in the Republican-controlled Congress. Adopt new voting limits.

Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule in the Alabama racial gerrymandering case, prompting vote advocates to fear it could effectively dismantle the nearly 60-year-old voting rights law. Congress’ efforts to strengthen its federal laws and increase access to the vote have failed.

Biden came into office, vowing that human rights and democracy play an important role in his approach to foreign policy. But he has faced criticism from some human rights activists for being too lenient about the human rights records of Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The administration sees the two countries as important partners in bringing stability to the Middle East.

More recently, as conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seeks to push through wide-ranging judicial reforms the administration fears will undermine Israeli democracy, officials in the Biden administration have turned to close allies in the Middle East. It is in conflict with Israel, which is

Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the summit’s opening ceremony that Israel remained a “robust democracy” even in the midst of “very intense public debate”.

“Democracy means the will of the people expressed by majority vote, and it also means protection of citizenship, individual rights. It is a balance between the two,” he says.

Marty Flux, director of the Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said there was “a disconnect” between the Biden administration’s message and its actions on human rights. The administration is likely to receive higher marks from its allies for how it has dealt with pressure on democracy at home.

“The fact that the Biden administration has been so open and transparent about the challenges facing the United States at home at the forefront of democracy gives it greater external credibility on these issues,” the administration said. “One of the big problems they faced was, how can we start talking about human rights and democracy abroad if we can’t address human rights and democracy issues here at home.”

Biden is scheduled to meet with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez in the Oval Office after attending the plenary session of the summit.

Fernandez, who was also at the summit, is seeking help from Biden as his country seeks to renegotiate the country’s $44 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund.

Argentina claims the IMF has been adversely affected by rising energy prices due to drought and Russia’s war with Ukraine, and is calling on the IMF to revise the requirements for issuing the latest deal. ___

Associated Press writer Mounir Ahmed in Islamabad. This is Tom Verdin from Sacramento, California. Daniel Politi of Buenos Aires. and Colleen Long of Washington contributed to this report.

https://wgnradio.com/news/business-news/biden-starts-summit-with-690m-pledge-for-democracy-programs/ Biden Launches Democracy Summit with Pledge of $690 Million in Program Support WGN Radio 720

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