Joe Biden departed on his first overseas trip Wednesday, during which he will meet with G-7 and NATO allies to discuss how to best handle the coronavirus, China and Russia.
First, he will attend a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday, then he will join G-7 leaders for the group’s summit over the weekend.
Biden is also set to meet with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle before traveling to Belgium for the NATO summit and later to Geneva for an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners,” Biden wrote in a Washington Post op-ed over the weekend. “Whether it is ending the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere, meeting the demands of an accelerating climate crisis, or confronting the harmful activities of the governments of China and Russia, the United States must lead the world from a position of strength.”
Before Air Force One took off Wednesday, Biden told reporters the goal of the trip is “making clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight.”
In regards to China, Biden will focus on marketplace competition and the origins of the pandemic.
In his op-ed, he said that the world’s major democracies should invest in infrastructure to provide a “high-standard alternative to China for upgrading physical, digital and health infrastructure that is more resilient and supports global development.”
“As new technologies reshape our world in fundamental ways, exposing vulnerabilities like ransomware attacks and creating threats such as invasive AI-driven surveillance, the democracies of the world must together ensure that our values govern the use and development of these innovations - not the interests of autocrats,” Biden wrote.
Biden and Putin are expected to discuss a plethora of issues, including Iran and North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Syria, arms control, climate change and the Russian-based ransomware attacks.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that following the meeting, Putin will be able to “understand fully where the U.S. stands, and what we intend to do.”
“We believe, fundamentally, that our capacity to ensure that harmful and disruptive activities against the United States do not continue unabated is to be able to communicate clearly, directly, not by negotiating in public, but by explicating our position and our capabilities in private,” Sullivan said.
“It is an effective and appropriate context and time period to have this summit,” he added.