At his first major global appearance, Biden draws sharp contrast with Trump's policies

WION Web Team
Washington, DC, United States of America Published: Feb 19, 2021, 11:17 PM(IST)

(File photo) US President Joe Biden Photograph:( AFP )

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The United States on Friday officially returned to the Paris climate accord, with Biden vowing to make the fight against global warming a top priority.

US President Joe Biden on Friday drew a sharp contrast with the foreign policy of his predecessor, Donald Trump, pledging to end transactional diplomacy and vowing climate change.

In a bid to promote democracy over years of divisive “America First” policies pursued by Trump, the Democratic president used his first big appearance on the global stage to try to re-establish the United States as a multilateral team player.

The Friday address to the annual Munich Security Conference -- held by video link because of the Covid-19 pandemic -- dovetailed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's welcoming of a return to "multilateralism" after the confrontational years of Biden's predecessor.

The US president declared the alliance between the United States and Europe was back in place after Trump strained relations.

"I'm sending a clear message to the world. America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back," Biden said.

Here, he drew a stark difference with the more transactional foreign policy practised 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 said.

“I know, I know the past few years of strain (have) tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined - determined to re-engage with Europe,” he said.

Also read | After Trump, Biden and G7 refocus on Covid recovery

Biden also urged European allies to join together to confront strong political and economic challenges from China.

"We must prepare together for long-term strategic competition from China," Biden told the Munich security conference.

"We have to ensure that the benefits of growth are shared broadly and equitably, not just by a few. We can push back against the Chinese government's economic abuses and coercion and undercut the foundations of the international economic system," he said.

Biden also called on European allies to double down on commitments to fight climate change, warning of a "global existential crisis."

"We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change," Biden said, just hours after the United States formally rejoined the Paris accord on global warming.

"This is a global existential crisis. We will all suffer consequences," he told the Munich Security Conference.

The United States on Friday officially returned to the Paris climate accord, with Biden vowing to make the fight against global warming a top priority.

Biden said he was not seeking a return to "the rigid blocs of the Cold War," insisting that the international community must work together on issues like the coronavirus pandemic and climate change, even where deep disagreements exist on other issues.

The return of the United States -- effective Friday -- to the Paris climate agreement was proof of Washington's intentions, he said.

"We can no longer delay or do the bare minimum to address climate change," Biden said, calling this a "global existential crisis."

But Biden delivered harsh warnings about the threats he said are posed by Russia and China.

Also read | US officially back in Paris climate accord, vows action

A month after Biden took office, the world's largest economy and second largest carbon emitter was formally back in the 2015 global agreement aimed at confronting the planet's dangerously rising temperatures.

The re-entry of the United States means that the Paris accord again includes virtually every country after Trump made the US the sole outlier.

Also, Biden delivered harsh warnings about the threats he said are posed by Russia and China.

"The Kremlin attacks our democracies and weaponizes corruption to try and undermine our system of governance," he said. President Vladimir Putin "seeks to weaken the European project and our NATO alliance."

Again urging Western unity, Biden said, "it's so much easier for the Kremlin to bully and threaten individual states than to negotiate with a strong, closely united transatlantic community."

Similarly, US partners should stand together against "the Chinese government's economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the international economic system," he said.

"Chinese companies should be held to the same standard" as US and European companies facing onerous restrictions on their presence in China, he said.

On Iran, Biden reiterated his pledge to return to international negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program, but said "we must address Iran's destabilising activities across the Middle East."

Biden's pivot is getting good reviews in Europe.

G7 leaders, in a similar vein, vowed a new chapter for global cooperation at their first summit since Biden succeeded the isolationist Trump.

"Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet," they said in a joint statement after the virtual summit.

They also agreed to "intensify cooperation" in response to the coronavirus pandemic and increase funding commitments for the rollout of vaccines in the world's poorest countries to $7.5 billion.

"Today, with increased financial commitments of over $4 billion USD to ACT-A and COVAX, collective G7 support totals $7.5 billion," the statement added.

Biden plans to join the elite club -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan apart from the US -- for an in-person G7 summit hosted by the UK this summer.

(with inputs from agencies)

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