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Biden reschedules meeting with NATO leader after root canal treatment

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By Trevor Hunnicutt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden is rescheduling a meeting with the head of NATO and skipping his other public events on Monday to undergo his second root canal procedure in as many days, the White House said.

Biden reported tooth pain on Sunday, prompting an X-ray examination and root canal treatment by a team from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to a letter from his physician that was distributed to the press.

“The President tolerated the procedure well,” the physician, Kevin O’Connor, wrote about the previously undisclosed treatment. “There were no complications.”

After experiencing more pain on Monday, which O’Connor said was anticipated, his medical team planned to “complete the President’s root canal today” at the White House.

Biden was not expected to be anesthetized and will not need to transfer his powers to Vice President Kamala Harris under the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution during the procedure, a White House official said.

A meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and a reception for diplomatic personnel were rescheduled for Tuesday. An event celebrating college athletes was attended by Harris, who made no mention of Biden’s absence.

Biden, 80, is the oldest person to serve as U.S. president and both his age and health have been a focus of voters as he plans to seek a second, four-year term in the 2024 election.

U.S.-led NATO’s search for Stoltenberg’s successor was heating up with several potential candidates emerging from Europe as the military alliance supports Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, in its response to Russia’s invasion.

Biden has not yet made a choice known to advisers, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Stoltenberg is due to step down at the end of September after nine years in the post.

Any new NATO leader needs to balance unified member support for Ukraine while guarding against any developments that would draw the group directly into a war with Russia.

NATO’s secretaries general are generally appointed through a consensus-oriented process, involving all of the group’s now-31 members. The United States exercises outsize influence in all NATO’s decisions, putting special attention on Biden’s views.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Tyler Clifford and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Grant McCool)

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