Joe Biden repeatedly mixes up Syria and Libya while discussing ways of working with Russia in latest press conference blunder ahead of meeting with Putin
- Biden, 78, was discussing cooperation with Russia at the G7 summit on Sunday
- He gave vivid details on the suffering of the people of Libya – but he meant Syria
- White House later clarified he meant the Middle Eastern country not the African
- Comes ahead of meeting with Putin at a Swiss chateau overlooking Lake Geneva
Joe Biden repeatedly confused Syria with Libya while discussing ways of working with Russia during a press conference at the G7 on Sunday.
The 78-year-old gaffe machine spoke of working with Vladimir Putin to provide economic assistance to the people of Libya, prompting some confused glances from the press pack at the G7 summit in Cornwall, England.
‘I’m hopeful that we can find an accommodation where we can save the lives of people in — for example, in — in Libya,’ the president said, mentioning the north African country for the third time instead of Syria, which is in the Middle East.
The White House later brushed the confusion off, confirming that it was indeed, Syria, the country where Russia and the US have been involved in a decade-long civil war, which the president was referring to.
‘I’m hopeful that we can find an accommodation where we can save the lives of people in — for example, in — in Libya,’ the president said, mentioning the north African country for the third time instead of Syria, in the Middle East
The White House later brushed the confusion off, confirming that it was indeed, Syria, the country where Russia and the US have been involved in a decade-long civil war, which the president was referring to
Some had guessed straight away that he was confused when he mentioned Libya, which most would not put at the top of a list when sitting down to negotiate with Putin.
Although there are similarities between the two countries – both have been plagued by civil war, Islamism and seen the military intervention of Washington and Moscow – these are only surface level.
Lebanese geopolitical commentator Sarah Abdallah tweeted: ‘I guess when you’re bombing so many countries at once, it’s hard to keep up.’
The gaffe came on the last day of the G7 summit of world leaders in Cornwall, southeast England.
The countries include Britain, the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, but Biden is planning to meet Putin in Switzerland on Wednesday – a summit organised following a rise in tensions at the Ukrainian border which led to fears of an invasion in mid-April.
Biden and First Lady Jill visited the Queen for a private audience at Buckingham Palace later on Sunday. He is the 13th president to meet the 95-year-old monarch.
He is due to meet with European Union chiefs in Brussels on Tuesday before travelling to Switzerland.
Biden and First Lady Jill with Her Majesty the Queen at Windsor Castle on Sunday
Biden as VP meeting Putin in 2011. The pair are set for another in Switzerland on Wednesday, with a lot more on the table this time
‘We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward,’ a White House official said.
Biden is set to discuss the Kremlin’s frayed relationship with the West, including cyber attacks on the United States, aggression against Ukraine and the jailing of dissidents.
Biden referred to Putin as a ‘killer’ in an interview in March.
Asked about this characterisation by a US broadcaster last week, Putin said: ‘This is not something I worry about in the least.’
Transcript of Biden mixing up Syria with Libya
And so, there’s a lot going on where we can work together with Russia. For example, in Libya, we should be opening up the passes to be able to go through and provide — provide food assistance and economic — I mean, vital assistance to a population that’s in real trouble.
I think I’m going to try very much — hard to — it is — and, by the way, there’s places where — I shouldn’t be starting off on negotiating in public here. But let me say it this way: Russia has engaged in activities which are — we believe are contrary to international norms, but they have also bitten off some real problems they’re going to have trouble chewing on.
And, for example, the rebuilding of — of Syria, of Libya, of — you know, this is — they’re there. And as long as they’re there without the ability to bring about some order in the — in the region, and you can’t do that very well without providing for the basic economic needs of people.
So I’m hopeful that we can find an accommodation that –where we can save the lives of people in — for example, in — in Libya, that — consistent with the interest of — maybe for different reasons — but reached it for the same reason — the same result.