Posted June 9, 2021 5:18 pm by

WashingtonUnited States, June 9 – Joe Biden left on the first foreign trip of his presidency Wednesday, touting the strong transatlantic alliance ahead of summits with G7, European and NATO partners, then a face-to-face with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Boarding Air Force One outside Washington, Biden said his trip would make “clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are tight.”

The 78-year-old president was headed first to Britain for a G7 summit in a Cornish seaside resort from Friday to Sunday.

From there, in rapid succession, he will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle, fly to Brussels for summits with the NATO military alliance and the European Union, then finish up in Geneva, where he meets Putin next Wednesday.

With the world still crawling out from under the wreckage of Covid-19, Biden has cast his diplomatic marathon as a return to badly needed US leadership.

But beyond the immediate challenges of boosting vaccine donations to poorer regions and reinvigorating post-pandemic economies, Biden’s agenda features the even bigger task of shoring up a somewhat-tattered group of democracies against Russia and China.

“This is a defining question of our time,” Biden wrote in The Washington Post ahead of his trip.

Biden’s pitch marks a return to traditional US diplomacy after four years during which Donald Trump flirted with autocrats and recast multilateralism as a dirty word.

US allies are looking for concrete signs of change.

As Biden departed Washington, the European Union trade commissioner, Valdis Dombrovskis, called on “the US to walk the talk” when it comes to resolving lingering Trump-era trade disputes.

For now, Biden is accentuating the feel-good factor, repeating the mantra “America is back.”

That’s a message that the trip’s choreography, with Biden meeting a Who’s Who of US allies before sitting down with Putin, reinforces.

“He will go into this (Putin) meeting with the wind at his back,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said.


– Avoiding ‘chaos’ –


As he boarded his plane, Biden jokingly warned journalists to “watch out for cicadas,” saying one of the insects currently invading the Washington area had just landed on him. Earlier, a separate plane carrying White House journalists was delayed due to technical problems caused by a cicada swarm.

Weighter problems await Biden on the other side of the Atlantic.

The Biden administration sees the pivot back from Trump’s isolationism as vital to world order. The alternative to US leadership, according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is China taking over or “chaos.”

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