Biden to champion alliances, democracy as he meets with foreign partners
President Biden on Friday will convey his commitment to multilateral engagement and alliances in a duo of appearances with foreign partners as he looks to reassert the United States’s position on the international stage.
Biden will participate in his first meeting as president with leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries and later deliver remarks to a virtual Munich Security Conference, during which he will champion democracy over autocracy, officials said. Biden intends to “declare that America is back and the transatlantic alliance is back,” according to a senior administration official.
The new president is looking to turn the page on the past four years during which his predecessor, Donald Trump, engaged in “America first” foreign policy, spurned multilateral institutions and criticized alliances like NATO.
Biden is expected to use both appearances to make the case for the major market economies to work together on shared challenges and areas of mutual concern, including the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and confronting behavior of Russia and China.
The pandemic will take center stage at the G7 meeting, which will be private, and Biden will join virtually from the Situation Room on Friday morning. Biden plans to commit $4 billion in funding to support Covax, the international initiative to distribute coronavirus vaccines to lower income countries. Leaders are also expected to discuss the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic and climate change. The U.S. officially rejoined the Paris climate agreement on Friday, about a month after Biden signed an order setting the process to do so in motion.
The G7 — which includes, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S. — last convened on a video call in April 2020 with then-President Trump. The G7 summit was scheduled to take place in the U.S. last year, but Trump postponed it until after the November election and it never took place. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host the meeting on Friday.
Biden has held separate one-on-one calls with each of the G7 leaders since he was elected president, but Friday’s conference will represent his first opportunity to engage with all of them together in a more formal setting on issues of mutual concern.
Later Friday morning, Biden will deliver televised remarks at the Munich Security Conference, which was forced to cancel its annual meeting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Several world leaders will deliver public remarks, including Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. Biden has been a regular fixture at the conference over the years, most recently participating in 2019 before announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
“He will look forward to driving home the core proposition that the transatlantic alliance is a cornerstone to American engagement in the world in the 21st century, just as it was in the 20th,” the senior administration official said of the speech.
“He will make a strong and confident case that democracy is the model that can best meet the challenges of our time as long as we make the investments in our sources of strength and renew those sources of strength for the future,” the official continued.
The address is expected to be wide-ranging; Biden plans to address Iran’s nuclear program, Russian efforts to undermine democracy, competition with China and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, the official said.
Biden’s comments on China are expected to encourage countries to collectively push back on China’s economic and human rights abuses, but will not call for specific actions in response to Beijing’s abuses of Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.
The speech comes after the State Department said that the U.S. is open to meeting with Iran and the other signatories of the Iran nuclear deal, a step toward fulfilling Biden’s goal of rejoining the Obama-era pact from which Trump withdrew.
Biden is not expected to detail specifics about his efforts to engage on the nuclear deal, but plans to emphasize his willingness to return to the deal through diplomacy, which has been a central focus as he laid out his foreign policy in remarks at the State Department earlier this month.