"Historic": Dutch PM congratulates new U.S. Pres. Biden, VP Harris
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued a brief statement on Wednesday evening offering to work more closely with newly-inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. The two were sworn in during a ceremony in Washington D.C. moments earlier.
"The Netherlands and the United States have long been close allies," Rutte said. "On behalf of the Dutch government, I would like to congratulate them on their historic inauguration."
"This is America's day. This is democracy's day. A day of history and hope, of renewal and resolve," Biden said during his first speech after he was sworn in by John Roberts, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. "We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue, rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this, if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts."
President Donald Trump was not in attendance. Outgoing Vice President, Mike Pence did attend the swearing-in ceremony.
"Relief and hope is what I feel on this special day, even if it is far from our own country. With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, respect and decency is returning to American politics," said Sigrid Kaag, the departing Minister of Foreign Trade and Development. Kaag, who is leading D66 into the March elections in the Netherlands, formerly lived in New York when she worked for the United Nations.
"Let us ensure that the wave of empathy and connectedness on March 17 also washes ashore here."
Earlier in the day, GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver wrote on Twitter, "Welcome back, America."
The theme of the inauguration on January 20 at 12 p.m. local time was “America United”. Democrat Joe Biden has vowed to bring the country back together during his time as the leader of the United States.
Americans living abroad in the Netherlands said they planned to watch the inauguration from across the pond. Democrat April Oostwal told NL Times she and others would be watching "with our fingers crossed and holding our breath."
Oostwal continued, "Joe was not my first choice. But since he clinched the nomination, I’ve come to know and love him. With Kamala at his back, I think we're in the best shape possible to take on the unimaginable, even surreal circumstances we find ourselves in at the moment."
Tickets sold this year will be limited to ensure a safe ceremony complying with social distancing restrictions. The Washington Post estimated that around two thousand people will attend the event compared to 200 thousand in 2017, and 400 thousand who attended Barack Obama's first inaugural address in 2009. The traditional inauguration gala dinner and balls will not take place this year, and no viewing stands were constructed for the public. Americans were encouraged to watch the inauguration from home.
Following the capital storming earlier this month, Washington D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, requested increased security prior to and throughout the inauguration. As a further security measure, the president-elect Joe Biden was flown in from his home in Delaware, instead of taking his preferred mode of transportation: the train.
After the inauguration ceremony, three former presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were scheduled to participate together in a wreath-laying ceremony as a demonstration of bipartisanship.
“This inauguration marks a new chapter for the American people – one of healing, unifying and coming together as an America united”, Executive Officer of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, Tony Allen, announced in a statement on Monday.