Biden boasts US has restored its global presence

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President Joe Biden on Sunday said the United States had restored 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 world’s most powerful countries and more closely unite allies on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and China’s trade and labor practices.

As he wrapped three days of what he called “an extraordinarily collaborative and productive meeting” at the Group of Seven (G7) summit of wealthy democracies, Biden said there was “genuine enthusiasm” for his engagement.

“America’s back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values,” Biden said at a news conference before leaving Cornwall to visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle. “I think we’ve made progress in reestablishing American credibility among our closest friends.”

The president, who is on an eight-day, three country trip, left his mark on the G-7 by announcing a commitment to share 500 million coronavirus vaccine doses with the world and pressing allies to do the same. The leaders on Sunday confirmed their intent to donate more than 1 billion doses to low-income countries in the next year.

“This is going to be a constant project for a long time,” Biden said of the global vaccination campaign, adding that he hoped the world could stamp out the pandemic in 2022 or 2023. “It’s not just the right thing to do” from a moral standpoint, Biden said, but also the correct thing to do “in terms of our own health.”

He also said the U.S. might be able to donate an additional 1 billion vaccine doses 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 worked to cast the rivalry with Beijing as the defining competition for the 21st century. The president declined to discuss the private negotiations over the provision, but said he was “satisfied” with the tough rhetoric, though difference remained among the allies about how forcefully to call out Beijing.

The leaders also embraced Biden’s call for a 15% global minimum corporate tax rate.

The 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 by embracing the his campaign slogan to “Build Back Better” from the pandemic.

Most European allies had been disenchanted with President Donald Trump’s grumbling of “global freeloaders” and espousing an “America First” policy, so Biden had the challenge of convincing a skeptical audience that the last U.S. administration was not a harbinger of a more insular country.

“We’re totally on the same page,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of Biden.

Implicitly criticizing his predecessor, who had said other countries should pay for the presence of America’s military presence abroad, Biden said he does not view NATO as a “protection racket.” Biden also reported that global leaders were gratified that the U.S. president accepted the science of climate change.

“One of the things some of my colleagues said to me when I was there was, ‘Well, the United States’ leadership recognizes there is global warming,” Biden said.

The president was ending his day Brussels for meetings with NATO and European Union leaders on Monday and Tuesday before his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in Geneva. U.S. officials said that one-on-one meeting would test whether the two men could develop a constructive relationship even as Biden was poised to rebuke Putin for a range of rights abuses and election interference.

 

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