Biden concludes first G-7 as president declaring ‘America is back at the table’
President Biden on Sunday sounded a triumphant note at the conclusion of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit in the United Kingdom, declaring “America is back at the table” while making thinly veiled swipes at the foreign policy of former President Trump.
“The lack of participation in the past and full engagement was noticed significantly, not only by the leaders of those countries but by the people in the G-7 countries. America is back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values,” Biden said in opening remarks at a press conference before departing for London to meet with Queen Elizabeth II.
Biden pointed to the U.S.’s commitments to fight the coronavirus pandemic and climate change and its loyalty to NATO allies and others in implicit and at times explicit rebukes of Trump’s foreign policy.
The president had made clear throughout the lead-up to the weekend’s summit that his goal was to reassure allies that the U.S. was returning to center stage and could be counted on to tackle global problems, and he was adamant during Sunday’s press conference that he was successful.
“I felt a genuine sense of enthusiasm that America was back at the table and fully, fully engaged,” Biden said.
“Bottom line is I think we’ve made some progress in reestablishing American credibility among our closest friends and our values,” he added.
Biden knocked Trump when he said the U.S. does not view NATO “as a sort of protection racket” but as critical for domestic security. Trump repeatedly chastised NATO allies for failing to pay more to the alliance and reportedly wanted to leave it, questioning its usefulness.
The president also swiped at his predecessor on the issue of climate change, which Trump repeatedly questioned and downplayed in favor of boosting the economy. Trump skipped the climate session at the 2019 G-7, the most recent one to be held in person.
“One of the things some of my colleagues said to me while I was there is, well, United States leadership recognizes there is global warming,” Biden said. “I know that sounds silly, but we had a president last who basically said it’s not a problem, global warming.”
Other G-7 leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, commented over the weekend on the return of U.S. leadership to the forefront after four years of Trump. The former president refused to sign the joint communique at the 2018 G-7 and criticized Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as he departed the summit.
Biden, meanwhile, touted his personal relationships with his counterparts on Sunday and highlighted commitments from member countries to combat climate change, the pandemic, ransomware and the practices of autocratic nations such as China.
Biden has retained some of Trump’s foreign policy, particularly on tariffs, as the U.S. focuses on its own economic recovery.
Asked whether foreign leaders raised concerns with tariffs on steel and aluminum that have carried over from the last administration, Biden dismissed the question, saying, “120 days. Give me a break,” before departing the press conference.
The president will head to London to meet with the queen before traveling to Belgium to attend a NATO summit for the next two days. Biden will cap off his first international trip as president with a bilateral summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland.