“This is an urgent matter,” Biden said in remarks to open the two-day virtual summit. “The data we’re seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction.”

President Joe Biden on Thursday opened the first White House Summit for Democracy by sounding an alarm about a global slide for democratic institutions and called for world leaders to “lock arms” and demonstrate democracies can deliver.

Biden called it a critical moment for fellow leaders to redouble efforts on bolstering democracies. In making the case for action, he noted his own battle to win passage of voting rights legislation at home and alluded to the United States’ own challenges to its democratic institutions and traditions.

“This is an urgent matter,” Biden said in remarks to open the two-day virtual summit. “The data we’re seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction.”

The premise is a central tenet of Biden’s foreign policy outlook — one that he vowed would be more outward looking than his predecessor Donald Trump’s “America First approach.

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