Harris to Attend Ukraine Summit With Biden Booked for Fundraiser

(Bloomberg) -- Vice President Kamala Harris will represent the US at the Ukraine summit in Switzerland later this month, confirming President Joe Biden’s plan to skip the gathering.

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Harris will travel to Lucerne, Switzerland on June 15 for the meeting, the White House said Monday. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will join her at the summit.

“The Vice President will underscore the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to supporting Ukraine’s effort to secure a just and lasting peace, based on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the principles of the UN Charter,” Kirsten Allen, Harris’s communications director, said in a statement.

Switzerland scheduled the meeting on the heels of the Group of Seven gathering this month in Italy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has publicly pressured Biden to attend the summit, where attendees will discuss Kyiv’s peace blueprint.

Biden, however, will attend the G-7 before leaving for home and a major fundraising event in Los Angeles with former President Barack Obama, as well as actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts. His attendance underscores the rising emphasis he’s putting on his reelection campaign against his predecessor, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has downplayed the impact of Biden not attending, saying the US is involved in the summit nonetheless and a staunch supporter of Ukraine.

About 70 countries will take part in the Swiss summit at some level, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Russian President Vladimir Putin was not invited, and other countries are skipping, too, including China.

Beijing has long been seen as crucial to the process given its close relationship with Moscow. China and several other nations in the so-called Global South have pushed for Russia to be involved in the process. Ukraine and its allies don’t want to engage with Moscow until a set of principles that would define any future peace settlement are broadly agreed. The Swiss summit was originally envisioned as a first step toward that aim.

--With assistance from Alessandro Speciale and Jennifer Jacobs.

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