President Joe Biden said on Sunday that the United States had reestablished its presence on the world stage as he used his first overseas trip since taking office to connect with a new generation of leaders from some of the most powerful countries in the world and unite their allies more closely to tackle the coronavirus pandemic and China’s business and labor practices.
As he wrapped up three days of what he called “an extraordinarily collaborative and productive meeting” at the top of the Group of Seven of wealthy democracies, Biden said there was “genuine enthusiasm” for his engagement.
“America is back to the world to lead the world alongside nations who share our deepest values,” Biden said at a press conference before leaving Cornwall to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. âI think we’ve made progress in restoring American credibility with our closest friends. “
The president, who is on an eight-day trip to three countries, left his mark on the G-7 by announcing a pledge to share 500 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine with the world and urging allies to do the same . Leaders on Sunday confirmed plans to donate more than a billion doses to low-income countries next year.
âThis will be a constant project for a long time to come,â Biden said of the global immunization campaign, adding that he hoped the world could end the pandemic in 2022 or 2023. âIt’s not just the right thing to do. doing it “from a moral standpoint, Biden said,” but also the right thing to do “in terms of our own health.”
He also said the United States may be able to donate an additional billion doses of the vaccine to the world in the coming years.
Biden also fought for the leaders’ joint statement to include specific language criticizing China’s use of forced labor and other human rights abuses as he struggled to create rivalry. with Beijing the determining competition for the 21st century. The president declined to discuss private negotiations over the provision, but said he was “happy” with the harsh rhetoric, though differences remain among allies over how hard to call Beijing.
Canada, the UK, France and Japan have broadly supported the Biden administration’s position, while Germany, Italy and the European Union have been reluctant in the talks, according to a senior official who informed reporters on condition of anonymity.
Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan played down the division, but acknowledged that “countries have different levels of belief in the depth of the challenge.”
“But when you add the whole up, the whole has in fact become greater than the sum of its parts, because there is a broad view that China poses a significant challenge for the democracies of the world, on a number of different dimensions. “Sullivan said.
Executives also embraced Biden’s call for a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate.
Other G-7 allies did their part in creating the impression that Biden was part of the “Club” and sought to help reinforce Biden’s “America is Back” mantra, including adopting the slogan of its âBuild Betterâ campaign for the pandemic.
Most European allies had been disappointed by President Donald Trump’s growls of “global biters” and the adoption of an “America First” policy, so Biden had the challenge of convincing a skeptical public that the America’s last administration was not the harbinger of a more insular country.
“We are totally on the same page,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of Biden.
Implicitly criticizing his predecessor, who said other countries should pay for the US military presence abroad, Biden said he did not view NATO as a “protection racket.” Biden also reported that world leaders were happy that the US president had accepted the science of climate change.
âOne of the things some of my colleagues told me when I was there was, ‘Well, the leadership of the United States recognizes that there is global warming,â Biden said.
The president ended his day in Brussels for meetings with NATO and European Union leaders on Monday and Tuesday before his summit with Putin on Wednesday in Geneva. U.S. officials said a one-on-one meeting would test whether the two could develop a constructive relationship even as Biden was set to reprimand Putin for a series of rights abuses and election interference.
Pressed during the press conference on why Putin did not change his behavior after the waves of US sanctions, Biden responded with a laugh. âIt’s Vladimir Putin.
The summit marked some of Biden’s first face-to-face meetings with world leaders since taking office in January amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including Frenchman Emmanuel Macron, with whom he has met to the first time.
Macron, 43, who took office in May 2017, months after Biden’s two terms as US vice president ended, appeared to have a quick chemistry with the 78-year-old American. The two hugged and chatted animatedly as they walked together after the leaders’ photo at the start of Friday’s summit.
In remarks to reporters, Macron did not mention Trump’s name but offered an unambiguous shot at the former president. Macron noted his relief that with Biden he was now working with a US president “willing to cooperate”.
âWhat you’re showing is leadership, it’s partnership,â Macron said of Biden.
During Trump’s tenure, Macron tried to find common ground but often bristled with Trump’s nativist rhetoric.
Macron, who has worked to portray France as a greater power in recent years, has also used the rise of Trumpism to advocate for greater global European leadership.
He complained in November 2019 that a lack of American leadership was causing NATO to “brain die”, insisting in an interview with The Economist that the European Union must step up and start acting as a strategic world power. Biden, in his remarks, appeared to acknowledge Macron’s concerns, noting that Western Europe provided “the backbone and support for NATO.”
During the summit, Biden also met Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
During the press conference, Biden briefly confused Syria and Libya when he described the importance of providing humanitarian aid to countries torn by civil war. It was among a handful of verbal missteps the president made.
Biden then traveled to Windsor Castle for a private audience with the Queen – becoming the 13th president to meet the 95-year-old monarch. Biden greeted the Queen on a dais in the castle courtyard and reviewed a gathered ceremonial guard before he and First Lady Jill Biden joined her for tea.
He said in a brief exchange with reporters that the Queen asked him about Chinese President Xi Jinping and Putin when they met. The president called her “very gracious” and invited her to visit the White House.
âI don’t think she will be insulted, but she reminded me of my mother,â Biden said.