WASHINGTON — 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.
“Our alliances weren’t built by coercion, or maintained by threats. They’re grounded in democratic ideals, a shared vision of the future, where every voice matters,” he added.
Biden’s remarks Wednesday underscore his administration’s efforts to use the Europe trip as an opportunity to re-establish America’s place at the international negotiating table following President Donald Trump’s isolationist approach to foreign policy that frayed relationships with key U.S. allies.
Pandemic response and cybersecurity would be topics of discussion at the G-7 summit, Biden said. Recent ransomware attacks have disrupted organizations around the world, including hospitals in Ireland, Germany and France, as well as pipelines in the United States and banks in the U.K.
Biden said that at the NATO summit in Brussels, he would make clear that the U.S.’s commitment to Article 5 was “rock solid,” calling it a “sacred obligation.” Article 5 is the cornerstone of the NATO alliance that says an attack against one ally should be treated as an attack against all members.
Following the G-7 and NATO summits, Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, their first in-person meeting since Biden took office. The president said he plans to “to let him know what I want him to know.”
Biden also underscored what he sees is a need to showcase the ability of democratic institutions to deliver results, particularly against the backdrop of rising autocracies.
“We have to expose as false the narrative that the decrees of dictators can match the speed and scale of the 21st [century] challenges,” Biden said. “You and I know they are wrong. But it doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work harder than ever to prove that democracy can still deliver for our people.”
Biden is expected to announce at the G-7 meeting his plan to purchase 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to donate to other countries struggling with a limited supply, according to three people familiar with the plans.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said the move would help demonstrate that democratic systems are equipped to “best deliver solutions for people everywhere.”
Biden described the G-7 and NATO gatherings as “essential” diplomacy “because no single nation acting alone can meet all of the challenges we face today,” including countering the Covid-19 pandemic and climate change.
“To tackle this century’s most pressing challenges, we have to do it together,” Biden said.