Biden promises US allies a partnership that’s not ‘transactional’

Reuters Washington | Updated on February 20, 2021

In his first big appearance on the global stage via a ‘virtual visit’, Biden will try to re-establish the US as a multilateral team player after four years of divisive ‘America First’ policies pursued by Trump

US President Joe Biden on Friday planned to draw a sharp contrast with the foreign policy of his much-derided predecessor, Donald Trump, vowing to end transactional diplomacy and promote democracy over autocracies.

The Democratic president, sworn in a month ago, used his first big appearance on the global stage — a "virtual visit" to Europe — to try to re-establish the United States as a multilateral team player after four years of divisive "America First" policies pursued by Trump.

Also read: President Biden very clear about restoring compassion, order to immigration system: White House

In excerpts from a speech he planned to give, Biden drew a stark difference with the more transactional foreign policy practiced by Trump, who angered allies by breaking off global accords and threatening to end defense assistance unless they toed his line.

"Our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values. They’re not transactional. They’re not extractive. They’re built on a vision of the future where every voice matters," he will say, according to excerpts released by the White House.

Biden arrived bearing gifts — a $4-billion pledge of support for global coronavirus vaccination efforts, the re-entry of the United States into the Paris climate accord and the prospect of a nearly $2-trillion spending measure that could bolster both the US and global economies.

Biden met G7 leaders from Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan by video conference on Friday. He plans to join them for an in-person summit hosted by Britain this summer, the official told reporters.

His speech will be to an online session later of the Munich Security Conference, which often draws top global leaders and where several years ago as a private citizen he reassured participants rattled by the Trump presidency: "We will be back."

Biden will underscore that democracies, not autocracies, offer the best path forward for the world, after the January 6 siege of the US Capitol by pro-Trump rioters showed how fragile democracy can be.

"We must demonstrate that democracies can still deliver for our people. That is our galvanising mission. Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend it. Strengthen it. Renew it. We have to prove that our model isn’t a relic of our history," Biden will say, according to the excerpts.

Russia, China challenges


will drive home his view that major market economies and democracies must work together to tackle challenges posed by great-power competitors like Russia and China, as well as transnational challenges ranging from nuclear proliferation to climate change and cyber security, the official said.

The US president will speak specifically about "malign" and concerted action he believes Russia has taken to destabilise and undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and elsewhere, and will call on allies to stand firm with Washington, the official said.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any such action.

With regard to China, the world's second-largest economy, Biden will urge democracies to work together to push back against practices and policies of the Chinese government that he will describe as "economically abusive and ... counter to our values," the official said.

The Biden White House is reviewing China policy across an array of fronts, including its military build-up and trade policies, its actions in Hong Kong, treatment of minority Uighurs in Xinjiang and its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

"He will make clear in the speech that he's not looking for confrontation, he's not looking for a new Cold War, but he's expecting stiff competition and he welcomes it," the official said.

Also read: Biden signs executive order rejoining Paris climate accord; new curbs on US oil industry

On the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear program, Biden will say the United States looks forward to re-engaging in diplomacy amid efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned, the official said.

On the economic front, Biden will urge other G7 leaders to invest heavily in their economies to foster and accelerate economic growth, the official said.

"The fear is not that we do too much, it's that we do too little," the official said. "This is an era for action and investment and not for austerity and that will be an important part of the message."

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Published on February 20, 2021
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