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Wairarapa Times-Age - 2021-06-11

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Arriving in Europe, Biden looks to rebuild alliances

WORLD

President Joe Biden opened the first overseas trip of his term yesterday with a declaration that “the United States is back” as he sought to reassert the nation on the world stage and steady European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor. Biden has set the stakes for his eight-day trip in sweeping terms, believing the West must publicly demonstrate it can compete economically with China as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It is an open repudiation of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who scorned alliances and withdrew from a global climate change agreement that Biden has since rejoined. The President’s first stop was a visit with US troops and their families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, where he laid out his mission for the trip. “We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and issues that matter the most to our future,” he said. The challenges awaiting Biden overseas were clear as the president and the audience wore masks – a reminder of the pandemic that is still raging around much of the world even as its threat recedes within the United States. “We have to end Covid-19 not just at home – which we’re doing – but everywhere,” Biden said. Shortly before the President spoke, people briefed on the matter said the Biden administration had brokered an agreement with Pfizer to purchase 500 million Covid-19 vaccine doses to be donated to 92 lower-income countries and the African Union over the next year. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden was committed to sharing vaccines because it was in the public health and strategic interests of the US. He added that Biden is aiming to show “that democracies are the countries that can best deliver solutions for people everywhere”. Building toward his trip-ending summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden will aim to reassure European capitals that the United States can once again be counted on as a dependable partner to thwart Moscow’s aggression both on their eastern front internet battlefields. Biden’s to-do list is ambitious. In their face-to-face sit-down in Geneva, Biden wants to privately pressure Putin to end myriad provocations, including cybersecurity attacks on American businesses by Russian-based hackers, the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny and repeated overt and covert efforts by the Kremlin to interfere in US elections. Biden is also looking to rally allies on their Covid-19 response and to urge them to coalesce around a strategy to check emerging economic and national security competitor China even as the US expresses concern about Europe’s economic links to Moscow. Biden also wants to nudge outlying allies, including Australia, to make more aggressive commitments to the worldwide effort to curb global warming. and their

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