Joe Biden’s challenge at his first UN General Assembly: Convince allies he’s not another Trump

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For world leaders who were alternated and cheered on by former President Donald Trump – who once faced laughter from a UN crowd in the middle of his big speech – Biden marked a different era in US foreign relations. represent hope. He spent his first overseas trip across Europe in June declaring that “America is back.”

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He continued that message in his first appearance in New York when he met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Biden said, “The strong partnership between the United States and the United Nations is based on common values ​​and principles, and at this time, those bonds are more important than ever. America’s back and we believe in the United Nations and its values.” “


In his first address as president to the General Assembly, Biden will try to allay fears, making a case for a collective approach to addressing the world’s problems like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. He would argue for a wholesale recalculation of priorities away from the wars of the past two decades and toward the threats emerging today.

A senior administration official said the president is expected to make the case for “uniting allies and partners and institutions to address the major challenges of our time.” Like almost every aspect of its foreign policy, China will emerge at large, and Biden in his speech will warn the world against evolving into a new Cold War that divides the world into spheres of influence.

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Still, the growing warnings of once zealous allies have not diminished on the president or his allies.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “I think the president’s view, which has been on the world stage for 50 years, is that you always have to work on your relationships. That includes with global leaders.” “He believes that our relationship has endured over the course of several decades, and every step he has taken since he took office was with the intention of rebuilding alliances and rebuilding the partnerships that have been there over the past four years. were spoiled.”

Psaki said that doesn’t mean countries will always agree with each other, but argued in the long run that Biden’s approach will strengthen global ties.

A high-profile moment on the world stage

The annual appearance at the United Nations is one of the highest-profile occasions for any president to articulate his foreign agenda, although this year’s gathering has been cut short due to the pandemic. Biden will not attend the usual flurry of pull-side sessions in the corridors of the United Nations Headquarters on Manhattan’s East Side and will return to the White House by Tuesday afternoon.

Officials see Biden’s speech and other events surrounding it – including a COVID summit on Wednesday and a meeting of Pacific leaders on Friday – as a key moment for the president to articulate his foreign policy vision. in and he believes it should be. world priorities.

He arrives in New York, dealing with setbacks in his quest to restore American leadership. France is furious over a deal to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines that denied Paris a lucrative contract for a conventional sub and, in what French officials say, came as a total surprise to America’s oldest ally. came in. Biden has asked to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron soon to bring down the temperature.

Uncertainty over Biden’s domestic agenda will impact his designs to harass global initiatives to tackle climate change. Democrats are largely divided over a spending bill that amounts to the bulk of Biden’s plan to cut carbon emissions.

And his decision to end the war in Afghanistan, which resulted in a messy evacuation, caused waves of refugees in Europe and the United States and left some allies disappointed with how the exit was planned. Biden’s pledge of continued effective counter-terrorism efforts was cut short by the revelation last week that a US drone strike in the final days of the war killed 10 civilians rather than ISIS-K targets.

Still, according to senior administration officials, Biden won’t back down on his decision to end America’s longest war during his speech. Instead, he would place the end of the war at the center of his message, arguing that it was a necessary decision to move the world into a new, more cooperative era to meet today’s challenges.

Previewing the speech, a senior administration official said, “The President will essentially send the message that ending the war in Afghanistan closes a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on purposeful, effective, in-depth American diplomacy. “

Biden aims to show change in priorities

Bridging the rifts that are emerging with foreign allies, the White House said several of Biden’s summits this week – on COVID-19, climate change and partnership in the Indo-Pacific – were evidence of a multilateral approach as opposed to a direct approach. Huh. previous administration.

And the announcement on Monday that the United States would ease travel restrictions on all fully vaccinated foreign visitors, replacing a patchwork of restrictions that has sparked fury in Europe, cheered in foreign capitals.

The travel ban was expected to be a major point of contention at a meeting later Tuesday afternoon with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who will make his first visit to Biden’s White House.

Biden also plans to hold a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday, calling on leaders in developed countries to step up vaccine-sharing commitments and boost global supplies of oxygen. And he will end the week hosting his first individual summit of the QUAD countries – Japan, Australia and India – to discuss the pandemic and security in Asia.

The summit underscores Biden’s overarching goal of diverting attention from places like Afghanistan and the threat from China, whose military and economic moves have led to a deterioration in relations with the West.

Biden’s decision to partner with the United Kingdom and Australia on nuclear-powered submarines was a sign of his desire to look beyond traditional alliances – such as with France – to better address security challenges in Asia.

The dispute with Paris shocked the White House

That approach has not been welcomed in Paris, where officials accused the Biden administration of working covertly to deny France important defense contracts. France’s outward reaction has been surprising to some in the White House, and one official said France’s behaviour, including recalling its ambassador for consultation, was an overly dramatic response to the crackdown.

For now, there is a general belief that the dust-and-slaughter will not permanently damage relations with France, but officials believe the dispute remains in the early days. One official said Biden has asked Macron to address the matter directly over the phone.

“We understand the situation in France,” the official said. “We don’t share his views in terms of how it all developed.”

The submarine dispute underscores the big difference between Biden’s approach to China and the views of some European leaders, who have called for a more conciliatory approach to a major trading partner. Those rifts were on display at this summer’s G7 summit, though the group eventually emerged with a collective statement warning China of its human rights abuses.

In his speech on Tuesday, Biden would like to underline that the US does not want conflict with China or its leader Xi Jinping, with whom he spoke on the phone earlier this month.

“President Biden will communicate tomorrow that he does not believe in the notion of a new Cold War with the world divided into blocs. He believes in vigorous, intense, doctrinal competition that does not tip over into conflict,” the official said. Is.”


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