- The Washington Times
Monday, September 20, 2021

President Biden‘s speech to the United Nations on Tuesday will focus on how ending the 20-year war in Afghanistan has opened up a new era of “intensive diplomacy” across the globe, a senior administration official said Monday.

Cooperation will be the central theme of Mr. Biden‘s speech, as he labors to repair frayed alliances across the globe from a series of foreign policy mishaps.

Standing before the U.N. General Assembly, the president won’t shy away from his widely panned military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Instead, he will make the case that it frees nations to work together on issues such as climate change, COVID-19 and infrastructure, the official said.

Mr. Biden also will hammer home his message that “America is back” after what he has previously described as the unreliable leadership of his predecessor, Donald Trump. That message has been dented, however, by his foreign policy missteps.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the president will focus on the future.

“The president is going to lay out the case for why the next decade will determine our future not just for the United States but for the global community,” she told reporters at the White House. “He will talk, and this will be a central part of his remarks, the importance of reestablishing our alliances after the last several years.”

Mr. Biden needs to get countries on board with the U.S. as it faces global threats including COVID-19 and Chinese military expansion. But some nations might bulk after a series of foreign policy blunders have left our allies questioning U.S. credibility.

Ms. Psaki dismissed the talk that allies are concerned about a further unraveling of relations with the U.S.

“Reestablishing alliances doesn’t mean that you won’t have disagreements or you won’t have disagreements about how to approach any particular issue in the world. That is not the bar for having an alliance,” she said.

Mr. Biden has a busy week ahead with a packed schedule of in-person and virtual diplomacy for the annual General Assembly meeting in New York.

On Monday, Mr. Biden will arrive in New York where he is scheduled to meet with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. The president will also meet with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison while in New York, according to the official.

Mr. Biden will then return to Washington on Tuesday when he will host a virtual COVID-19 summit. He will urge world leaders to increase their vaccine-sharing commitments and partner to deal with other pandemic issues.

He also is scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House on Tuesday.

On Friday, the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan — the Pacific alliance dubbed “the Quad” — will join Mr. Biden for meetings. The leaders will focus on containing China’s military expansion in the Indo-Pacific region.

Although Mr. Biden is planning to pitch cooperation throughout this week’s meetings, he has recently frustrated U.S. allies on several issues.

European allies have slammed the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left the Taliban in charge and created a potential safe haven for terrorists and triggered a massive humanitarian crisis.

Some European leaders pushed Mr. Biden to extend his self-imposed Aug. 31 deadline for leaving for Afghanistan, but he refused to bend.

He also angered longtime ally France by cutting a multibillion nuclear submarine deal with Australia. The move angered France, which lost its $65 billion submarine pact with Australia.

In response, France took the shocking step of recalling its ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia. France, which is America’s oldest ally, also canceled a gala at its Washington embassy to celebrate its close ties with the U.S.

Mr. Biden is still seeking a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron in the next few days, according to the administration official.

Mr. Macron will not be traveling to New York for the General Assembly meeting and will attend the event virtually, according to the official.

The two leaders have not spoken since the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom announced the trilateral security agreement last week.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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