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Biden to host ‘summit’ to rally democracies over autocrats

August 12, 2021 GMT
President Joe Biden arrives for a virtual meeting from the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, to discuss the importance of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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President Joe Biden arrives for a virtual meeting from the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, to discuss the importance of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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President Joe Biden arrives for a virtual meeting from the South Court Auditorium at the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021, to discuss the importance of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will host a virtual ”summit for democracy” in December, the White House said Wednesday, as he aims to assemble government, civil society and private sector leaders in what he has cast as a global faceoff against rising autocratic forces.

About a year after the Dec. 9-10 event, the president plans an in-person gathering that would bring together leaders of democratic nations and other officials. The White House said this December’s summit would “galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.”

The second summit will aim to show that democratic governments can work together to deliver on those issues.

The White House announcement came not long after officials in Afghanistan said the Taliban had seized three more provincial capitals from the elected, American-backed government in Kabul. They now control some two-thirds of the nation as the United States and NATO finalize their withdrawal after a decadeslong war. There are fears that the brutal tactics the Taliban used to rule Afghanistan before will return. Some civilians who have fled Taliban advances have said that the insurgents imposed repressive restrictions on women and burned down schools.

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A central theme of Biden’s presidential candidacy and his first six months in office has been to redirect the nation to address what he calls a generational competition between democracies and autocracies such as Russia and China.

“In the race for the 21st century between democracies and autocracies, we need to prove that democracies can deliver,” Biden said last week in remarks on the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.