President Joe Biden on Monday thanked the Danish prime minister for her country’s role in the alliance helping Ukraine resist Russia, as speculation grows that Mette Frederiksen is in line to be N.A.T.O. secretary general.

‘There’s a shared commitment to the core values and that gives us our strength — at least that’s what I believe,’ Biden said as they met in the Oval Office. 

‘Together we’re working to protect those values — including standing up for the people of Ukraine against the brutal aggression of the Russians.’

It was the first of two meetings with key allies this week, allies who come with N.A.T.O. aspirations.

On Thursday it is the turn of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, whose defense secretary is another contender to lead the Western alliance when Jens Stoltenberg steps down in October.

President Joe Biden on Monday thanked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen for her country's backing for Ukraine, when they met in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon

President Joe Biden on Monday thanked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen for her country's backing for Ukraine, when they met in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon

President Joe Biden on Monday thanked Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen for her country’s backing for Ukraine, when they met in the Oval Office on Monday afternoon

As she left the White House she said she was only interested in being prime minister when reporters asked her about speculation she was jockeying to lead N.A.T.O.

As she left the White House she said she was only interested in being prime minister when reporters asked her about speculation she was jockeying to lead N.A.T.O.

As she left the White House she said she was only interested in being prime minister when reporters asked her about speculation she was jockeying to lead N.A.T.O.

The post of secretary general requires unanimous assent from members, which means the backing of the U.S. president is crucial.

White House officials took pains to insist that the N.A.T.O. question was not on the agenda on Monday.

But Frederiksen would make history as the first female secretary general if she won out.

For her part, The Danish prime minister would not be drawn on questions about her future.

‘I’ve have said before that I am not a candidate for any other job than the one I have now, and this has not changed after my meeting with the U.S. president,’ she told reporters as she left the White House.

Before the meeting, officials said the talks would focus heavily on the war in Ukraine, including recent efforts to train and equip Ukrainian forces with F-16 fighter jets. 

The talks come at a crucial period in the 15-month war. In recent days, Ukraine appears to have stepped up its attacks in a long-awaited counter-offensive.

The meeting comes at a critical time in Ukraine's 15-month war, as Kyiv apparently steps up its attacks on Russian forces amid reports of a counter-offensive

The meeting comes at a critical time in Ukraine's 15-month war, as Kyiv apparently steps up its attacks on Russian forces amid reports of a counter-offensive

The meeting comes at a critical time in Ukraine’s 15-month war, as Kyiv apparently steps up its attacks on Russian forces amid reports of a counter-offensive

The commander, driver and gunner of an armored personnel carrier (YPR-765) belonging to the Ukraine Armed Forces 57th Motorized Brigade near Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast

The commander, driver and gunner of an armored personnel carrier (YPR-765) belonging to the Ukraine Armed Forces 57th Motorized Brigade near Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast

The commander, driver and gunner of an armored personnel carrier (YPR-765) belonging to the Ukraine Armed Forces 57th Motorized Brigade near Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast

British Prime Minister is due to visit the White House later this week. He is seen here taking tea with Biden when the president visited Northern Ireland in April

British Prime Minister is due to visit the White House later this week. He is seen here taking tea with Biden when the president visited Northern Ireland in April

British Prime Minister is due to visit the White House later this week. He is seen here taking tea with Biden when the president visited Northern Ireland in April

The two sides traded claims on Monday about who gained ground as fighting intensified in eastern Ukraine in the region of southern Donetsk.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby declined to answer questions about whether it amounted to a counter-offensive

‘I’m not going to be talking for the Ukrainian military. That’s for them to speak to it,’ he said. 

‘I think you heard them say earlier today that they that they’re conducting some offensive operations, but I won’t go beyond that.’

Nor would he say whether the N.A.T.O. was discussed in the Oval Office.

‘That is not the purpose for the trip, not the purpose for the conversation,’ he told reporters.

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