US President Joe Biden has arrived in the UK on his first overseas trip since taking office, an eight-day mission to rebuild tense transatlantic ties and reshape relations with Russia during the Trump era.
The trip tests the Democratic President’s ability to maintain and repair relationships with key allies disappointed by then-President Donald Trump’s trade tariffs and treaty resignation.
“Will the democratic alliances and institutions that have shaped so much in the last century prove their capabilities against modern threats and adversaries? I think the answer is yes. And this week in Europe we have a chance to prove it, ”Biden said in an article published in the Washington Post.
Mr Biden told reporters when he left the US for Europe that his goals were to “strengthen the alliance and make it clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are close”.
His June 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva marks the keystone of the trip, an opportunity to share US concerns directly with Mr Putin about ransomware attacks from Russia, Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine, and a host of other issues .
“Don’t look for a conflict”
Speaking to US forces stationed at the Royal Air Force’s Mildenhall Base with a huge American flag behind them, Mr Biden set a harsh tone for his meeting with Mr Putin, saying he would “let him know what he should know ”.
“We are not looking for a conflict with Russia,” said Biden, adding that the United States wants a stable, predictable relationship with Russia, but that it will “respond in robust and meaningful ways when the Russian government engages in harmful activities.”
Air Force One arrives at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk on Wednesday evening. Image: PA
He’s also coming to Europe with a gesture of goodwill, the planned announcement that the US will buy 500 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next two years and donate to about 100 countries, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters With. The US has been criticized for securing access to much of the original stocks of the most promising vaccines.
Mr Biden will make his first stop on the trip at the coastal village of St Ives in Cornwall, where he will attend the G7 summit. The meeting is expected to be dominated by vaccine diplomacy, trade, climate and an initiative to rebuild infrastructure in developing countries. US officials see these efforts as an opportunity to counter China’s growing influence.
Mr Biden will have a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Cornwall on Thursday, an opportunity to renew the so-called “special relationship” between the US and the UK after Britain broke off the EU.
They will issue an updated joint statement of principles by the two countries in honor of the original 1941 Atlantic Charter.
But the two men have deep political issues to discuss, with Mr Biden likely to step up US steadfast support for the 1998 Belfast Accord, according to White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
Mr. Biden and Mr. Johnson will also discuss climate change, a proposal to counter China’s global impact on infrastructure and the withdrawal of western troops from Afghanistan.
After three days of the G7 summit, Mr Biden and his wife Jill will visit Britain’s Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. 78-year-old Mr Biden met the Queen in 1982 as a US Senator.
Russia & China
Mr Biden will then travel to Brussels for talks with the leaders of NATO and the EU. The agenda is expected to be dominated by Russia, China and the standing question of getting NATO allies to contribute more to common defense.
Biden has “very big” concerns about Brexit and the Irish …
Mr Biden concludes the trip in Geneva for what may be the most difficult meeting of the week – a session with Mr Putin, who was on friendly terms with Mr Trump.
Mr Sullivan told reporters that Mr Biden hopes his G7 and NATO meetings will strengthen the sense of united unity when he goes to his meeting with Mr Putin where he will press the Russian President on a variety of US grievances .
No major breakthroughs are expected from the summit. When asked by reporters whether his meeting with Mr. Putin would result in an agreement on cybersecurity, Mr. Biden was non-committal.
“Who knows?” said Mr. Biden. “That will be a topic of our discussion.”