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Biden to ‘acknowledge’ to world that democracy ‘under stress’ in US: Official



(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden will “take a virtual trip to Europe” with a pair of high-profile engagements aimed at restoring the United States’ place on the global stage, after what he views as its absence during President Donald Trump’s years in office, according to a senior Biden administration official.

In his remarks to an international security conference and to the leaders of the world’s major industrialized nations on Friday, Biden planned to make a case for multilateralism, the official said — in stark contrast to Trump’s nationalist approach to the world, which the former president termed “America First.”

And in a nod to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol and the policies of the president’s predecessor, Biden would “acknowledge that democracy is under stress, democratic institutions are under stress, under challenge in the United States” as they are elsewhere, the official told reporters Thursday evening.

“We have learned actually over the course of the past four years, that democracy, as he will put it, doesn’t happen by accident — that we have to work at it, that we need to fight for it,” the official said.

But, the official added, “the focus of his speech tomorrow is not Donald Trump or what’s happened over the last four years.”

Speaking first to a virtual meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven nations, Biden will commit to addressing three “immediate” global crises, according to the official: the COVID-19 pandemic, the economic crisis and climate change.

Later Friday morning, he plans to argue via video teleconference to attendees of the annual Munich Security Conference “that democracy is the model that can best meet the challenges of our time,” the official said.

“He will get the opportunity as president of the United States, early in his term, to declare that America is back and the transatlantic alliance is back,” the official said.

Part of that recommitment to the world will include an announcement that the U.S. will donate $4 billion to a global initiative to distribute vaccine doses to poor countries, the White House said Thursday. That money had been allocated by Congress in December but had not yet been donated.

Rolling back Trump’s nationalist policies has already become a hallmark of Biden’s short time at the White House. And on Friday he plans to make clear his markedly different approach to Russia, China and Iran, the official told reporters.

After Trump approached Russia gingerly, Biden “will specifically talk to what he believes is a concerted effort by the Kremlin to to carry out a strategy to discredit, undermine and destabilize democracies,” the official said.

And while Trump launched a combative, bilateral trade war with China, Biden will pursue a multilateral approach to trying to put an end to China’s “non-market-oriented policies and practices,” according to the official.

On Thursday, the State Department said it was open to talks with Iran about its nuclear program and the official said Biden planned to echo that message Friday.

“We are keen to sit down and hear what the Iranians have to say,” the official said. “We want to come up with a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear program. And let’s get to work.”

Biden also planned to “touch on Afghanistan,” as he faces questions about whether he will abide by an agreement with the Taliban and withdraw U.S. troops in the coming months, according to the official, who did not provide more details of what the president would say.

Biden’s remarks will build upon his actions in office so far.

He has returned the United States to international agreements and organizations his predecessor left — including the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord, which the U.S. will officially become a party to again on Friday after Trump had pulled it out.

As a candidate, Biden promised to return the U.S. to its position “at the head of the table,” restoring it as a world leader on issues ranging from climate change to transnational terrorism. He argued that Trump had ceded that role to other nations during his four years in office.

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