Joe Biden

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden's First Foreign Trip Restores America's Leadership on the World Stage

June 17, 2021

President Bides Strengthens Key Transatlantic Alliances, Rallies the World Democracies to Tackle Our Greatest Challenges, and Showcases American Values and Leadership

Last week, President Biden embarked on his first international trip to Europe to rally the world's democracies to tackle the greatest challenges of our time, shape the road for the 21st century, and defend our values. President Biden, joined by the First Lady, kicked off the trip visiting a U.S. military base in the United Kingdom to thank American troops and their families for their service and sacrifice. President Biden's first meeting with a foreign leader was with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, marking the special relationship between our two counties grounded in democratic values, human rights, and the rule of law.

After, President Biden attended the G7 in Cornwall, United Kingdom and the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium – joining dozens of leaders from the world's strongest democracies and largest economies to affirm our alliances and ensure close coordination on the critical issues facing our collective future, including ending the pandemic, combating climate change, leading on labor standards, stopping corruption and cyberattacks, and championing our shared democratic values. The President then traveled to Brussels, Belgium for a NATO Leaders Summit where he re-affirmed his commitment to Article V, and for a U.S.-EU Summit.

After rallying the world's democracies and demonstrating our enduring alliances, President Biden traveled to Geneva, Switzerland – a city and country with a historic track record of facilitating dialogue and diplomacy – to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and engage in direct, face-to-face diplomacy and foster a stable and predictable relationship between our two countries.

Read more below about what they're saying and writing about the trip:

Remarks at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom

Wednesday, June 9

Doug Mills/New York Times
New York Times: In Britain, Biden called diplomacy and alliances vital to the world's future.
"President Biden began his first overseas trip by telling American troops in Britain that the future of the world depends on restoring the longstanding alliances with European countries that have been 'hardened in the fire of war' and built by 'generations of Americans.' Speaking to troops at RAF Mildenhall, he called his weeklong diplomatic overture "essential," saying that no nation acting alone can meet the world's challenges."

Politico: Biden's message as he lands in Europe: America's back
"In his first remarks as president overseas, Joe Biden attempted to send a message to the rest of the world: America will resume its leadership role, recommit to global alliances and push democracy over the rise of authoritarianism. 'At every point along the way, we are going to make it clear that the United States is back and the democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and issues that matter most to our future,' Biden said."

NBC News: Biden arrives in U.K. to press a message: 'The United States is back'
"President Joe Biden arrived Wednesday in Britain ahead of a series of meetings with world leaders intent on stressing the message of his first foreign trip as president: 'The United States is back.' 'We're going to make it clear that the United States is back, and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and the issues that matter most to our future,' Biden said, speaking to U.S. Air Force personnel and their families stationed at Royal Air Force Mildenhall shortly after landing in the country."

ABC News: Biden embarks on 1st foreign trip as president, including summit with Putin
"President Joe Biden headed out on his first overseas trip since taking office Wednesday, seeking to reaffirm the United States' standing on the world stage with familiar allies, and portraying himself as the leader of the free world, including in his first face-to-face meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Biden delivered a fired-up speech to American service members during a speech at an air base in England, telling them he was going to Geneva 'to meet with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know.'"

Meeting with Prime Minister Johnson in Cornwall, United Kingdom

Thursday, June 10

AP: Biden, Johnson strike warm tone in first meeting
"Striking a warm tone, President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson used their first meeting Thursday to highlight a commitment to strengthening their nations' historic ties while setting aside, at least publicly, their political and personal differences. Beginning a week of diplomacy across the Atlantic, Biden hopes to use his first overseas trip as president to reassure European allies that the United States had shed the transactional tendencies of Donald Trump's term and is a reliable partner again. Long a believer in alliances, Biden stressed the deep bonds with the United Kingdom as a lynchpin of his call for Western democracies to compete against rising authoritarian states."

NBC: Biden, Johnson sign new Atlantic Charter on trade, defense amid Covid recovery
"Biden and Johnson agreed to the revamped accord during a bilateral meeting Thursday at Carbis Bay, Cornwall, in the southwest of England on Thursday ahead of the G-7 summit with other world leaders, which starts Friday. Speaking to reporters from St. Ives afterward, Biden said he had a 'very productive meeting' with Johnson and said they discussed "ambitious" goals on climate change. The president added that they talked about 'shared sacrifices' service members from both countries made in Afghanistan."

Politico: Biden, Johnson talk 'global vision' for U.S.-U.K. relationship
"President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promoted their efforts to strengthen the U.S.-U.K. alliance in a joint statement released after their bilateral meeting on Thursday — Biden's first overseas summit with a foreign leader since assuming office.
According to the statement, the 90-minute session focused on democracy, human rights and multilateralism; defense and security; science and technology; trade and prosperity; climate and nature; health; and the shared commitment to Northern Ireland. Biden and Johnson laid out their "global vision" in an updated version of the Atlantic Charter of 1941, the agreement authorized by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill that established a set of post-war objectives for the two countries' relationship."

G7 in Cornwall, United Kingdom
Friday, June 11-Sunday, June 13

Neil Hall/New York Times

New York Times: Cameras Off: G7 Summit Heralds the Return of In-Person Diplomacy
"It was balm for Mr. Biden, who loved nothing more than jetting around the world as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then as vice president — a man who actually enjoyed roaming the halls of the famed Hotel Bayerischer Hof, where the Munich Security Conference is held each year. He could be seen, two hands on a diplomat's shoulder, making his point, persuading, posing for pictures … 'I don't think it's possible to overstate the importance of face-to-face diplomacy,' said Madeleine Albright, who served as secretary of state under President Bill Clinton."

CNN: Biden finds his comfort zone on the world stage in first international trip as president
"It was evident at nearly every stop along the way that after five months focused almost exclusively on pressing domestic concerns, Biden was at last in his comfort zone. He carried himself with a seasoned air of confidence that new presidents seldom possess, a fluidity on the world stage that was among his biggest calling cards in his race for the White House. I know we make foreign policy out to be this great, great skill, and somehow it's sort of like a secret code," Biden said. 'All foreign policy is an extension of personal relationships. It's the way human nature functions.'"

Politico: Biden touts 'monumental commitment' to send 500M Covid vaccine doses abroad
"President Joe Biden on Thursday formally announced U.S. plans to procure and donate 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses while making his first overseas trip, as part of a speech steeped in the imagery of World War II and other eras defined by their need for urgent collective action.
'This is a monumental commitment by the American people,' Biden said in St. Ives, England. 'We're a nation full of people who step up in times of need to help our fellow human beings, both at home and abroad. We're not perfect, but we step up.'"

AP: After G-7, Biden says he's reestablishing US credibility
"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."

CBS News: Biden says U.S. is "back at the table" as G-7 Summit comes to close
"In a 25-page communique issued on the last day of the three-day meeting, the leaders of the G-7 countries — the U.S., the U.K., Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan — committed to cracking down on the use of forced labor, fighting ransomware and combating corruption while calling out China and Russia for human rights abuses. 'We know that corruption undermines the trust in government, siphons off public resources, makes economies much less competitive and constitutes a threat to our security,' the president said."

Daily Beast: Biden Gets G7 to Demand COVID Lab Leak Probe in China
"President Biden succeeded in cajoling reluctant world leaders to call out China directly in the G7 end-of-summit joint statement issued on Sunday. Among the lines that will anger Beijing was a demand for a full WHO phase two probe into the origins of the COVID pandemic inside China. Speaking after the summit, Biden said: "We haven't had access to the laboratories to determine whether or not this was the consequence of… an experiment gone awry in a laboratory. It's important to know that." The president was asked how he had managed to persuade his fellow leaders to go after China explicitly, and he couldn't hide his satisfaction at getting one over on Beijing. "There's no way to answer that question without sounding self-serving," he said."

Wall Street Journal: Biden and Macron Share Affection and Worldview at G-7 Summit
"At the summit of the Group of Seven leaders in Cornwall this weekend, the two presidents embraced each other, sometimes literally, as allies on a host of issues—from multilateralism to fighting climate change—after years of volatility between Mr. Macron and former President Donald Trump. 'The sun is shining, we're on this beach, I'm well,' Mr. Biden said sitting next to Mr. Macron. 'And I'm with the president of France—that makes me even feel better.' 'I think it's great to have a U.S. president part of the club, and very willing to cooperate,' Mr. Macron said."

New York Times: Biden says summit offers 'democratic alternative' to Chinese influence.
"As the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations wrapped up their first in-person summit since the outbreak of the pandemic, the leaders of seven industrialized nations released a joint communiqué on Sunday, underscoring areas of solidarity — and the differences that remain — when it comes to tackling a host of global crises. The group, including President Biden, did not reach agreement on a timeline to eliminate the use of coal for generating electric power, a failure that climate activists said was a deep disappointment ahead of a global climate conference later this year."

New York Magazine: Can Biden Make America Lead the Free World Again?
"Joe Biden wrapped up the first leg of his first international excursion as president with the closing of the G-7 summit in Cornwall on Sunday, and the statements and commitments that came out of the meeting suggest he is having some success getting allies on board with his foreign policy agenda. The president's desire to take a harder line on China's human rights abuses, political repression, and labor practices came through in the group's joint communique, which may have contained softer language than Biden wanted, but still called Beijing out more forcefully than it would have without his influence. The G-7 unveiled a plan, known as the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative, to fund infrastructure projects in developing countries, as an alternative to China's massive Belt and Road Initiative. And the bloc committed to donate one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to developing countries over the next year, of which the U.S. will supply 500 million. The G-7 finance ministers also agreed to a framework for a 15 percent global minimum tax rate for multinational corporations, which would mitigate the "race to the bottom" that has enabled many large companies to avoid taxes by registering themselves in countries with lower rates.

CNN: Biden causes sighs of relief among world leaders even as G7 divisions linger
"During their first session on Friday afternoon, held in front of a picture window at a seaside resort, the world leaders took turns speaking about efforts to contain the pandemic, according to officials familiar with the talks. Biden, seated between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Canada's Justin Trudeau, appeared prepared, according to one European official, describing his administration's recent purchase of Pfizer doses as a major gesture meant to bring other countries along … At one point, Biden made a forceful call to other leaders about vocally calling out China's anti-democratic practices, officials said, emphasizing the need to take action."

"Joe Biden has challenged leaders of G7 countries to use their financial muscle to counter China's rising global influence as he declared that western democracies were "in a contest with autocrats". The US president said he was "satisfied" with the outcome of the G7 summit in Cornwall on Sunday, but pushed European leaders to be more ambitious in backing an alternative to China's Belt and Road Initiative by offering a broad package of infrastructure funding to poor countries."

Meeting with Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in Windsor, United Kingdom
Sunday, June 13

New York Times

New York Times: President Biden says Queen Elizabeth II reminds him of his mother.
"President Biden called Queen Elizabeth 'extremely gracious' and said she reminded him of his mother after a meeting at Windsor Castle on Sunday. 'She reminded me of my mother in terms of the look of her and just the generosity," he said, adding that he didn't think "she would be insulted' by the comparison. The two traded stories of living in Windsor Castle and the White House and dealing with visits from the public, and they enjoyed tea with the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden."

Politico: The queen meets her 13th U.S. president: Joe from Scranton
"President Joe Biden built his political brand on being part of a working-class family from a former coal town in the hills of northeastern Pennsylvania. On Sunday, Joe from Scranton met the queen. Biden — alongside his wife, first lady Jill Biden, a community college teacher — had tea at Windsor Castle with Queen Elizabeth II, the British monarch who has reigned for more than 60 years, before he was to depart the United Kingdom. It's a presidential rite of passage. Queen Elizabeth, 95, has met every American president since World War II, with the exception of Lyndon Johnson. Biden is the first in two decades, though, to come from what he's described as hardscrabble roots."

NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium

Monday, June 14


Doug Mills, New York Times

AP: Biden rallies NATO support ahead of confrontation with Putin
"President Joe Biden used his first appearance at a NATO summit since taking office to call on Russian President Vladimir Putin to step back from provocative actions targeting the U.S. and its allies on Monday. NATO leaders joined the United States in formally accusing Moscow and Beijing of malign actions. Biden's sharp words for Russia and his friendly interactions with NATO allies marked a sharp shift in tone from the past four years and highlighted the renewed U.S. commitment to the 30-country alliance that was frequently maligned by predecessor Donald Trump."

Washington Post: Opinion: What Biden knows about being a superpower that Republicans don't
"President Biden's first overseas trip, to a large extent, is an affirmation that his predecessor was an aberration whose views were anathema to American values. Biden's success in repairing relations with European allies could be seen in expressions of solidarity but also in concrete results and elevation of democracy as a tool of foreign policy. The Post reports: 'President Biden and European Union leaders reached a deal Tuesday to put to rest a 17-year-old trade dispute about subsidies for aircraft manufacturers, officials said, a significant step in calming trade relations after the fury of the Trump years.' This is one of several new commitments reached during Biden's trip, including pledges to supply vaccines to the world, to address climate change, to cooperate in facing aggressiveness from China and to defend democracy as it faces unprecedented threats from illiberal movements and autocratic regimes. While differences remain on steel tariffs and travel restrictions, the days of U.S. antagonism toward our allies are behind us, for now."

Washington Post: NATO expands focus to China, a win for Biden in his first trip to the battered alliance
"For the alliance's battered leaders, it was already victory enough that they were meeting with a U.S. president who was not threatening to pull out of NATO on the spot. And at a closed-door meeting that marked the first NATO summit since Trump left office, leaders mostly set aside divisions to embrace one another after four turbulent years. Almost all the leaders declared delight that the United States "was back," according to two officials who listened to the discussions, a possible sign that Biden's trip may be succeeding in reassuring shaky European allies — or at least that expectations were low."

ABC News: Biden calls NATO's common defense pact 'a sacred obligation' amid cyberattacks
"President Joe Biden on Monday called NATO's Article 5 – which states an attack on one member nation is an attack on all – 'a sacred obligation,' and NATO was poised to update how it will respond jointly to cyberattacks. 'I constantly remind Americans that when America was attacked for the first time on its shores since what happened back at the end of World War II, NATO stepped up," the president said in a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, referencing the 9/11 terror attacks. 'I just want all of Europe to know that the United States is there. The United States is there.' Biden's endorsement of NATO stands in stark contrast to his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who called the alliance "obsolete," which he later backtracked, and once declined to endorse Article 5, which has been a key tenet of the alliance since it was created in 1949."

CNN: Biden says NATO must protect against 'phony populism'
"President Joe Biden on Monday called on foreign leaders to protect against those who prey on division and push "phony populism," asserting that it's up to democratic nations to prove to the world that democracy can prevail and autocracies cannot 'deliver for the needs of our people.' 'We have to root out corruption that siphons off our strength, guard against those who would stoke hatred and division for political gain as phony populism, invest in strengthening institutions that underpin and safeguard our cherished democratic values,' he said, adding later: 'That's how we'll prove that democracy and that our alliance can still prevail against the challenges of our time and deliver for the needs and the needs of our people.'"

Politico EU: Biden reassures NATO on security: 'The United States is there'
"U.S. President Joe Biden voiced a strong commitment to European security at a NATO summit on Monday, describing the alliance's collective defense clause as a 'sacred obligation.' 'NATO is critically important for U.S. interests in and of itself. If there weren't one, we'd have to invent one,' Biden, on his first overseas trip as U.S. president, said at a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels."

CNN: NATO leaders at summit back Biden's decision to pull troops out of Afghanistan
"NATO leaders meeting in Brussels on Monday largely backed President Joe Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, according to a senior administration official present for the talks, as the US President made his first trip to the alliance's headquarters since taking office …
Biden said in a news conference after the summit that there was a 'strong consensus' among leaders about his plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan."

Politico: Biden heads to Brussels after global win
"Overall, the G-7 has delivered a significant win for Biden. While the leaders were panned for not doing enough to vaccinate the world and frequently fell short of consensus on the toughest issues, they're definitely moving in the same direction, and other leaders fell over themselves to welcome Biden to their table."

Reuters: White House says NATO will launch 'ambitious' security initiatives
"The White House said on Sunday ahead of Monday's NATO summit that alliance leaders would launch an "ambitious" set of initiatives to ensure it continues providing security through 2030 and beyond. It said the 30 member countries would agree to revise NATO's 'Strategic Concept' to guide its "approach to the evolving strategic environment, which includes Russia's aggressive policies and actions; challenges posed by the People's Republic of China to our collective security, prosperity, and values; and transnational threats such as terrorism, cyber threats, and climate change."

U.S.-EU Summit in Brussels, Belgium
Tuesday, June 15

New York Times: U.S. and E.U. End Aviation Trade Spat and Turn to China's Rise
"The agreement, which suspends the threat of billions of dollars in punitive tariffs on each other's economies for five years, is a clear sign of President Biden's seriousness in repairing relations with the European Union and getting the wealthy bloc on his side in what he regards as a generational challenge from the rise of a technologically advanced and autocratic China. Mr. Biden sees Europe as an ally, not an economic 'foe' as former President Donald J. Trump did, and he has pledged to work with the European Union to counter China's military, economic and technological ambitions. While Mr. Trump also saw the dangers of an unbound China, he did little to try to bring Europe along, instead punishing it with tariffs. Mr. Biden is convinced that, as Asia as a whole grows in population and wealth, the democratic world that believes in the rule of law and multilateral institutions must do more to protect its economies and values."

Reuters: Biden ends EU aircraft trade war in renewal of transatlantic ties
"Biden and the EU side agreed to remove tariffs on $11.5 billion of goods from EU wine to U.S. tobacco and spirits for five years. The tariffs were imposed on a tit-for-tat basis over mutual frustration over state subsidies for U.S. planemaker Boeing (BA.N) and European rival Airbus (AIR.PA). 'This meeting has started with a breakthrough on aircraft,' European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said. 'This really opens a new chapter in our relationship because we move from litigation to cooperation on aircraft - after 17 years of dispute ... Today we have delivered.'"

Bloomberg: Biden Wrings a Plan Out of a Reluctant Europe to Stand Up to China
"On his first overseas trip as president, Joe Biden's plans for an international coalition that can stand up to Beijing are starting to come into focus. The settlement on aircraft subsidies sealed Tuesday ahead of his talks with senior European Union officials in Brussels not only parks $11.5 billion of tariffs for the next five years, it also includes a commitment for the U.S. and the EU to tackle, together, 'non-market practices of third parties" which could threaten Boeing Co. and its European rival Airbus SE."

AP: Biden eases trade friction with EU ahead of Putin summit
The American leader reached Geneva following rounds of cordial elbow bumping, grinning photo sessions and close consultations with global leaders at the Group of Seven, NATO and U.S.-European Union summits. He secured a series of joint communiques expressing concern over Russia and China, and was at the EU on Tuesday to preside over the announcement of a breakthrough easing a long-running U.S. aircraft trade dispute with that bloc.

U.S.-Russia Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland
Wednesday, June 16

CNN: President Biden shores up allied support before heading to Geneva for Putin summit
"Biden has spent the past week consulting fellow leaders, national security aides and political advisers, reading through extensive preparation materials and thinking about what exactly he will say to the Russian President when they sit down in an 18th century lakeside Swiss villa Wednesday. At meetings of the Group of 7 and NATO, he discussed the upcoming summit with at least two dozen foreign leaders, from the Chancellor of Germany to the leaders of the tiny Baltic states to the right-wing President of Poland. He was even quizzed on the meeting by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II over tea at Windsor Castle."

USA Today: Putin: U.S. and Russia agree to return ambassadors to their posts at Geneva summit
"Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he and President Joe Biden agreed to return their ambassadors to their posts in Washington and Moscow in the first sign of moves to ease tensions following talks in Geneva. After more than three hours of talks between to the two foreign leaders, Putin told reporters at a press conference that there was 'no hostility' between the two delegations. He described the meetings as 'constructive.'"

New Yorker: Joe Biden Just Had a Summit with Vladimir Putin and Nothing Crazy Happened
"Biden was more forthcoming in his remarks. He had vowed in advance that he would talk tough to Putin, and he insisted afterward that he had done so. He said he promised 'devastating' consequences if the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny should die, and serious but unspecified retaliation if Russia continues its cyberattacks inside the United States. Biden said he told Putin that 'human rights is going to always be on the table.' It's 'part of the DNA of our country.' Biden did not mention Trump or make explicit any comparison with his predecessor, who cared not at all about human rights; as is often the case, Biden did not have to."

Financial Times: Opinion: Biden politely reads riot act to Putin
"There were no illusions about his meeting of minds with the Russian leader, let alone souls. The modesty of Biden's goal – to stabilise relations with America's chief military adversary – conveyed a realism that eluded earlier presidents."

Washington Post: Opinion: The biggest winner in the Biden-Putin summit: Democracy
"Biden comes back to the United States with increased stature and unity among allies. He achieved what he came to do in Geneva: reasserting American values and conveying to Russia the risks of its reckless aggression. The point here was not to attain capitulation. "I'm not confident" Putin will change his conduct, Biden said bluntly. But he did eradicate any misconception that the last four years were anything more than a nightmarish aberration and reestablished the United States' democratic bona fides."

Washington Post: Opinion: Biden wiped the smirk off Putin's face
"As the historian Michael Beschloss noted, there was no such grin on Putin's lips when he did his solo press conference after meeting with Biden on Wednesday. While Putin engaged in his usual dishonesty and whataboutism — he compared his jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny with the prosecution of the Capitol rioters — his manner was subdued and far from triumphant. He attacked the United States but was careful not to insult Biden personally. He even compared the current president favorably to his predecessor: 'President Biden is an experienced statesman. He is very different from President Trump.' (Ouch. That's got to sting for Putin's biggest fanboy in the United States.) In his own remarks, Biden struck all the right notes. He made clear that he raised human-rights concerns with Putin. 'How could I be the president of the United States of America and not speak out against the violation of human rights?' he asked. It is almost unimaginable — had we not just witnessed the Trump presidency. Biden said he told Putin that, if Navalny dies in a Russian prison, the consequences would be 'devastating for Russia.' He said he also raised Russia's complicity in cyberattacks, its interference with humanitarian aid in Syria, and its invasion of Ukraine (he expressed support for Ukraine's 'territorial integrity'), while holding out the hope of cooperation on the Iranian nuclear program, stability in Afghanistan, nuclear arms control and other issues.'"

Joseph R. Biden, WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden's First Foreign Trip Restores America's Leadership on the World Stage Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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