Joe Biden has called on fellow world leaders to show together that “democracies can still deliver” as he underscored his administration’s determination to quickly turn the page on Donald Trump’s “America First” approach.
In his first big appearance on the global stage, he gave a virtual address to the annual Munich Security Conference, saying it was a critical time for the world’s democracies to “prove that our model isn’t a relic of our history”.
“We are in the midst of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world,” Mr Biden said in the address just after taking part in his first meeting as president with fellow G7 leaders.
That debate is “between those who argue that – given all of the challenges we face, from the fourth industrial revolution to a global pandemic – autocracy is the best way forward, and those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting those challenges”.
Mr Biden made his address to a global audience as his administration has begun reversing Trump administration policies.
He said that the US stands ready to rejoin talks about re-entering the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal abandoned by the Trump administration.
The Biden administration announced on Thursday its desire to re-engage Tehran, and it took action at the United Nations aimed at restoring policy to what it was before Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018.
Mr Biden also spoke out about the economic and national security challenges posed by Russia and China, as well as the two-decade war in Afghanistan, where he faces a May 1 deadline to remove the remaining 2,500 US troops under a Trump administration negotiated peace agreement with the Taliban.
As he underlined challenges facing the US and its allies, he tried to make clear that he is determined to repair a US-Europe relationship that was strained under Mr Trump, who repeatedly questioned the value of historic alliances.
‘I know the past few years have strained and tested the transatlantic relationship,” Mr Biden said. “The United States is determined to re-engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trust and leadership.”
At the G7, administration officials said, Mr Biden focused on what lies ahead for the international community as it fights the public health and economic crises created by the coronavirus pandemic.
He said the US will soon begin releasing 4 billion dollars for an international effort to bolster the purchase and distribution of vaccines to poor nations, a programme Mr Trump refused to support.
Both the G7 and the annual security conference were held virtually because of the pandemic.