WASHINGTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was set to meet with his NATO counterparts Wednesday ahead of a dinner at the White House, where the U.S. president is expected to host leaders of the defensive alliance.

Concerns over Joe Biden’s health and the possibility of a second Donald Trump presidency has already cast a shadow over the three-day leaders’ summit in Washington, D.C.

The 81-year-old current president’s age and mental acuity have been under international scrutiny since a disastrous debate performance last month against Trump.

Biden delivered a clear and forceful speech at NATO’s 75th anniversary celebration Tuesday evening at a critical time for the Democratic leader and for stability in his party. With the eyes of the world watching, it was an important moment for Biden to prove he was capable of being in charge.

But the demands of the summit have just begun. Biden’s team has said the president is sharpest earlier in the day and tries to avoid events after 8 p.m. That is when Wednesday’s dinner with the NATO leaders is set to begin.

Trudeau did not answer a question from reporters Tuesday about whether he has concerns with the president’s health.

The prime minister is facing his own pressures during the summit, where Ukraine’s ongoing battle with Russia is taking top billing.


In the lead-up to the summit, American politicians took public note of the fact Canada is falling far short of its funding commitments.

NATO allies have agreed to spend at least the equivalent of at least two per cent of their national gross domestic product on defence. Canada’s current spend is just under 1.4 per cent.

Trudeau tried to get ahead of the criticism during a speech Tuesday in which he said Canada has been following through on promises to drastically increase that funding.

But it is an issue that’s likely to continue following Trudeau across his encounters with international counterparts as the summit gets underway in earnest on Wednesday.

Trudeau is scheduled to meet with new Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof, along with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. He is also slated to take part in a meeting with the leaders of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

The 32 allies are set to gather for a North Atlantic Council meeting after a welcome ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.