WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden opened the first overseas trip of his term Wednesday with a declaration that “the United States is back” as he seeks to reassert the nation on the world stage and steady European allies deeply shaken by his predecessor.
Biden has set the stakes for his eight-day trip in sweeping terms, believing the West must publicly demonstrate it can compete economically with China as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. It is an open repudiation of his predecessor, Donald Trump, who scorned alliances and withdrew from a global climate change agreement that Biden has since rejoined.
The president’s first stop was a visit with U.S. troops and their families at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, where he laid out his mission for the trip.
“We’re going to make it clear that the United States is back and democracies are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges and issues that matter the most to our future,” he said. “That we’re committed to leading with strength, defending our values, and delivering for our people.”
On Thursday, Biden will sit down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The two men will meet a day ahead of the Group of Seven leaders’ summit.
The G-7 summit is expected to be dominated by vaccine diplomacy, trade, climate and an initiative for rebuilding infrastructure in the developing world. U.S. officials see that effort as a way to counter China’s growing influence.
“In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic,” Biden wrote in a Washington Post op-ed previewing his diplomatic efforts, “this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age.”
On the final day of the June 11-13 summit, Biden and his wife Jill will visit Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. The 78-year-old Biden met the queen back in 1982 when he was a U.S. senator from Delaware.
Afterwards Biden travels to Brussels for talks with leaders of NATO and the European Union. The agenda is expected to be dominated by Russia, China and the perennial issue of getting NATO allies to contribute more to the common defense.
His summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16 in Geneva is the capstone to the trip, an opportunity to raise U.S. concerns directly with Putin about ransomware attacks emanating from Russia, Moscow’s aggression against Ukraine and a host of other issues.
Biden also addressed his anticipated meeting with Putin in his remarks to the troops.
“I’m meeting with Mr. Putin to let him know what I want him to know,” stated Biden to loud cheers.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden hoped his G7 and NATO meetings will bolster a sense of allied unity as he goes into his session with Putin.
“The trip, at its core, will advance the fundamental thrust of Joe Biden’s foreign policy,” said national security adviser Jake Sullivan, “to rally the world’s democracies to tackle the great challenges of our time.”
No major breakthroughs are expected from the summit. Sullivan said Biden would press Putin on U.S. priorities.
The two sides were negotiating whether to hold a joint news conference.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.