Biden Aims to Enlist Allies at UN 09/21 06:12
President Joe Biden planned to use his first address before the U.N. General
Assembly to reassure other nations of American leadership on the global stage
and call on allies to move quickly and cooperatively to address the festering
issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses.
NEW YORK (AP) -- President Joe Biden planned to use his first address before
the U.N. General Assembly to reassure other nations of American leadership on
the global stage and call on allies to move quickly and cooperatively to
address the festering issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human
Biden, who arrived in New York on Monday evening to meet with
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ahead of Tuesday's address, offered a
full-throated endorsement of the body's relevance and ambition at a difficult
moment in history.
The president, in brief remarks at the start of his meeting with Guterres,
returned to his mantra that "America is back" -- a phrase that's become
presidential shorthand meant to encapsulate his promise to take a dramatically
different tack with allies than predecessor Donald Trump.
"The vision of the United Nations has never been short on ambition, any more
than our Constitution," Biden said.
But the president was facing a healthy measure of skepticism from allies
during his week of high-level diplomacy. The opening months of his presidency
have included a series of difficult moments with friendly nations that were
expecting greater cooperation from Biden following four years of Trump's
"America first" approach to foreign policy.
Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on
the chaotic ending to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. He has faced differences
over how to go about sharing coronavirus vaccines with the developing world and
over pandemic travel restrictions. And there are questions about the best way
to respond to military and economic moves by China.
Biden also finds himself in the midst of a fresh diplomatic spat with
France, the United States' oldest ally, after announcing plans -- along with
Britain -- to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The move is
expected to give Australia improved capabilities to patrol the Pacific amid
growing concern about the Chinese military's increasingly aggressive tactics,
but it upended a French defense contract worth at least $66 billion to sell
diesel-powered submarines to Australia.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday there was a "crisis
of trust" with the U.S. as a result of the episode.
Before Biden's arrival, EU Council President Charles Michel strongly
criticized the Biden administration for leaving Europe "out of the game in the
Indo-Pacific region" and ignoring the underlying elements of the trans-Atlantic
alliance -- transparency and loyalty -- in the withdrawal from Afghanistan and
the announcement of the U.S.-U.K.-Australia alliance.
Despite such differences, Biden hoped to use his address to the General
Assembly as well as a series of one-on-one and larger meetings with world
leaders this week to make the case for American leadership on the world stage.
"There are points of disagreement, including when we have disagreed with the
decisions other countries are making, the decision points of when countries
have disagreed with the decisions we're making," White House press secretary
Jen Psaki said. "But the larger point here ... is that we are committed to
those alliances, and that always requires work from every president, from every
In an interview before his meeting with Biden, Guterres told The Associated
Press that he was concerned about the "completely dysfunctional" U.S.-China
relationship and that it could lead to a new cold war. Psaki said the
administration disagreed with the assessment, adding that the U.S.-China
relationship was "one not of conflict but of competition."
In his address Tuesday, Biden planned to put a heavy emphasis on the need
for world leaders to work together on the COVID-19 pandemic, meet past
obligations to address climate change, head off emerging technology issues and
firm up trade rules, White House officials said.
Biden was expected to release new plans to assist the global vaccination
effort and to talk about the U.S. plan to meet its part of financial
commitments that the U.S. and other developed nations made in 2009 to help
poorer nations adopt clean energy technology, assistance that was due to kick
in annually last year, according to a senior administration official who spoke
on the condition of anonymity to preview the president's remarks.
Ahead of his departure, the Biden administration announced plans to ease
foreign travel restrictions to the U.S. beginning in November. The U.S. has
largely restricted travel by non-U.S. citizens coming from Europe since the
start of the pandemic, an issue that had become a point of contention in
The new rules will allow foreigners in if they have proof of vaccination and
a negative COVID-19 test, the White House said Monday.
Biden planned to limit his time at the United Nations due to coronavirus
concerns. He was to meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison while in
New York before shifting the rest of the week's diplomacy to virtual and
At a virtual COVID-19 summit Biden is hosting Wednesday, leaders will be
urged to step up vaccine-sharing commitments, address oxygen shortages around
the globe and deal with other critical pandemic-related issues.
The president is also scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Boris
Johnson on Tuesday at the White House, and invited the prime ministers of
Australia, India and Japan -- part of a Pacific alliance known as "the Quad" --
to Washington on Friday. In addition to the gathering of Quad leaders, Biden
will sit down for one-on-one meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.