Biden highlights US commitment to Israel, Ukraine, Indo-Pacific in West Point speech

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WEST POINT, New York: President Joe Biden emphasized the critical role of US support to allies around the world including Israel, Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific in a speech on Saturday (May 25)  at the commencement for the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.

The speech before 1,036 graduating US Army cadets is part of a push by Biden to highlight the administration's efforts to support active and retired military personnel. These include a bipartisan law he signed two years ago to help veterans who have been exposed to burn pits or other poisons obtain easier access to healthcare.

Biden described American soldiers as "working around the clock" to support Ukraine in its effort to repel a two-year-long Russian invasion but repeated his commitment to keeping them off the front lines.

"We are standing strong with Ukraine and we will stand with them," Biden told the crowd to a round of applause.

He also highlighted the US role in repelling Iranian missile attacks against Israel and support for allies in the Indo-Pacific against increasing Chinese militarism in the region.

"Thanks to the US Armed Forces, we're doing what only America can do as the indispensable nation, the world's only superpower," Biden said.

The president is scheduled to participate in Memorial Day services at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on Monday. A week later, he will travel to Normandy, France, to participate in ceremonies marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

Biden is expected to give a major speech about the heroism of Allied forces in World War Two and the continuing threats to democracy today.

As vice president, he twice addressed a graduating class of cadets at the academy about 64km north of New York City, but this was the first time as president.

Donald Trump, Biden's Republican challenger in the 2024 election, was the last president to speak at a West Point commencement, in 2020.

College campuses nationwide have erupted in sometimes-violent protests over Biden's support for Israel's war against Hamas following the militant group's Oct 7 attack. Students have used commencement speeches at universities such as Harvard, Duke and Yale to protest Biden's actions.

Earlier this month, the Democratic president gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College, a historically Black men's college, where protests were sparse.

The military academy was founded in 1802 by President Thomas Jefferson to train Army officers and has produced some of the United States' greatest generals, including two who went on to become president.

Trump has seen some of his support from the military community erode.

In 2016, he won 60 per cent of voters who said at the time that they served in the military, according to exit polls conducted by NBC News. That figure dropped to 54 per cent in 2020, according to NBC News.

In 2020, Biden won 44 per cent of voters who said they served in the military, according to the data.

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