In his first major appearance on the global stage, US President Joe Biden on Friday called on other world leaders to gather to prove that “democracies can still deliver” as he underlined his government’s determination to quickly turn the page to Donald Trump’s America First ” ” approach.
In an online speech to the security conference in Munich, Biden made a strong distinction with the more transactional foreign policy used by Trump, who angered allies by breaking global agreements and threatening to end defense aid unless they followed his line.
“Our partnerships have endured and grown over the years because they are rooted in the richness of our common democratic values. They are not transactional. They are not extractive. They are based on a vision of the future where every voice is important,” he said.
“I know, I know that the last few years of efforts have (have) tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined – determined to re-engage with Europe,” he said.
His message avoided the argument that democracies, not autocracies, are models of governance that can best meet today’s challenges.
Biden first met G7 leaders from the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan via video conference on Friday. He plans to go with them to a personal summit that Britain will host this summer, the official told reporters.
He then addressed the Munich Conference, which draws world-leading leaders, and announced “America is back” and stressed his government’s commitment to working with America’s democratic allies.
“We must show that democracies can still deliver for our people. That is our galvanizing mission. Democracy does not happen by mistake. We must defend it. Strengthen it. Renew it. We must prove that our model is not a relic of our history,” said Biden.
He said the White House was reviewing a Trump administration meeting on troops that could be sent to Germany.
Challenges from Russia, China
Biden stressed that large market economies and democracies must work together to address challenges from major power rivals such as Russia and China, and challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to climate change and cyber security.
He promised commitments for alliances that Trump had attacked while attacking Russia and China.
“The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance, and I welcome your investment in the military capabilities that enable our common defense,” Biden said.
“An attack on one is an attack on everyone. That is our unwavering promise.”
Russia has sought to destabilize and undermine democracy in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, Biden said, urging allies to stick with Washington.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied such actions.
“We must push back against the Chinese government’s economic abuse and coercion that undermines the foundations of the international economic system.”
The Biden White House examines China’s policies on a number of fronts, including its military build-up and trade policy, its actions in Hong Kong, the treatment of minority figures in Xinjiang, and its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
‘We have to deal with Iran’
In response to the challenge posed by Iran’s nuclear program, Biden will say that the United States looks forward to once again engaging in diplomacy amid efforts to revive Iran’s nuclear deal abandoned by Trump.
“We need to address Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East,” Biden said. “We will work with our European and other partners as we continue.”
Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency this week that it would suspend voluntary implementation next week of a provision in the 2015 deal that allowed UN nuclear monitors to conduct inspections of undeclared sites in Iran at short notice unless the United States revoked sanctions on 23 February.
( Jowharwith AP and REUTERS)