Tuesday, October 19

Biden Will Reaffirm America’s Transatlantic Ties


(CNN) — When Joe Biden last addressed the Munich Security Conference two years ago, he made a promise to a packed crowd at the Hotel Bayerischer Hof.

“This too will pass,” Biden said in 2019, lamenting the isolationist turn the United States took under then-President Donald Trump. “We will be back.”

On Friday, Biden will declare that “America is back” when he returns – virtually – to the annual security conference to reaffirm America’s position of global leadership, the power of its alliances and the resilience of democracy, in America and abroad.

Alongside his first virtual Group of 7 session a few hours earlier, Biden’s face-to-face diplomatic encounters will focus on his attempt to restore the transatlantic alliance after it became tense with Trump, who viewed Europe as a business rival and often said that he believed traditional American friends were more difficult to deal with than adversaries.

And while officials, anticipating his appearances, said that Biden would not focus primarily on Trump during his outings, the menacing influence of his predecessor will nonetheless shape the message the president is trying to convey.

“He will certainly acknowledge that democracy is under pressure, that democratic institutions are under pressure, with challenges in the United States as in parts of Europe and also in other parts of the world,” said a senior administration official. “But that recognition will be the starting point for a sure and assertive statement that he will make in this speech that we have the means to renew and strengthen our democratic institutions.”

A regular participant in the Munich conference during his years as a senator, vice president, and private citizen, Biden has used the event as a testing ground and sounding board for his foreign policy. The event itself, founded at the height of the Cold War as a so-called “transatlantic family reunion,” somehow epitomizes the kind of group diplomacy it has long advocated.

The pandemic has forced the annual gathering to leave its traditional home in the grand Bavarian hotel. Instead, Biden will speak at the conference from the East Room of the White House, where he spent the first month of his presidency trying to repair the damage that he says cost the United States its credibility abroad.

This year, Biden hopes to defend a united front against Russia and China, and will file specific grievances against anti-democratic threats from those countries.

After four years of the United States unilaterally addressing the challenges posed by China, Biden will outline a multilateral strategy to confront and compete with Beijing.

As he seeks to reinforce America’s more traditional alliances with European countries and other democracies around the world, the president will seek to harness those ties to meet the growing challenges that China presents, urging the United States and its allies to “stand together,” he said. the official.

“Regarding China, he will make clear in the speech that he is not seeking confrontation or cold war, but expects tough competition and welcomes it,” said a senior administration official. “And he believes that the United States, Europe and democracies throughout the Indo-Pacific should work together to push back the Chinese.”

The official said Biden is not expected to make specific requests to US allies during the G7 or the Munich Security Conference regarding China, but will urge US allies to “stand together” and “develop a common perspective ”. The official stressed that taking action against China would not be the thrust of Biden’s comments at any of the conferences, nor would he engage in “chest beating.”

Addressing the security conference a day after the State Department announced that the United States will engage in multilateral negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Biden is expected to reiterate that commitment, but will not disclose his timetable for talks or a deal. .

“We hope to participate in diplomacy. We are eager to sit down and hear what the Iranians have to say. We want to reach a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program, and let’s get down to work, ”the official said. “He will not go any further than that in his comments.”

Before delivering a speech at the Munich conference, Biden will attend a closed-door session of the G7, during which he will reveal a $ 4 billion commitment to Covax, the World Health Organization’s effort to provide vaccines to the Poor countries. The president plans to announce a $ 2 billion contribution to the fund and commit to spending another $ 2 billion, depending on contributions from other nations.

And just as Biden has unveiled his $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package by underscoring the risk of “being too small,” not too big, a senior administration official said that Biden would underscore a similar message on the matter. regarding the global economic recovery.

“This is an era for action and investment and not for austerity,” said the official, anticipating Biden’s remarks.

The session will also mark the official return of the United States to the Paris climate agreement, 30 days after Biden announced that he would re-include the United States in the pact during his first day in office.

Biden joins a G7 that had been fractured by the presence of Trump, who came to dislike the group and questioned why he needed to participate in its summits. At his first meeting, held on a cliff in Sicily, he felt trapped when leaders tried to convince him to stay on the Paris agreement.

The following year, during a riverside retreat in the forests of northern Quebec, he stubbornly resisted the other leaders’ pleas for tariffs and left early, canceling his signature of the final declaration as he flew to Singapore to meet with Kim. Jong Un.

The leaders clashed again a year later over a heated dinner under the Biarritz lighthouse in France, when Trump said he wanted Russia to join the group.

In his fourth year in office, when it was his turn to host the summit, Trump was back and forth over where it would be convened, upset that optics and ethics prevented him from holding it at his resort in Doral. Ultimately, at the behest of French President Emmanuel Macron, he held a video conference. But he never organized a real summit.

To be sure, there is a sense of relaxation with Biden replacing Trump in the US chair around the G7 table. Even among leaders who tried to cultivate closeness with the former president, such as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Biden provides at least a more predictable and stable presence than Trump, whose bitter moods, often triggered by jet lag, said his attendees derailed many G7 sessions.

In some ways, the restoration of a trusted American voice is Biden’s message during his debut at a multilateral presentation, which a senior administration official likened Thursday night to a “virtual trip to Europe.”

“The president will indicate his very firm opinion that the United States has a deep set of enduring strengths that transcends what we have seen in the course of the last four years,” said the official, advancing the president’s activity on condition of anonymity.


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