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At UN, Biden will try to move past Afghanistan with climate, China focus By Reuters


© Reuters. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Antonio Guterres (United Nations Secretary General) meet at the U.N. General Assembly’s 76th Session in New York City on September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland

NEW YORK (Reuters) – President Joe Biden plans to defend his hasty troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday in a speech to the United Nations, arguing it was needed to pivot U.S. policy to focus on a global challenge from China and climate change.

Biden’s first visit to the United Nations since January, when he was elected president. He faces criticism of the Afghan pullout and his handling of an Australia submarine deal that angered France, a key ally in countering China.

Biden will make a convincing case for the United States as a trusted ally in the face of criticism from France China’s allied. This is despite years of Trump’s “America First” policies.

America is back. He said that he believes in the United Nations’ value and maintained this belief Monday night before meeting U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Biden, a White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that he would “present the case why the next ten years will determine our destiny, not only for America but for all of the world, and he’ll talk…about how important it is to re-establish our alliances after these last few years,” in his address to the U.N. General Assembly.

A senior White House official stated that Biden’s message would be to “end the war on Afghanistan and open a chapter focusing on war” and “open a chapter focusing on… purposeful effective, intensive American diplomacy.” NATO allies were left scrambling after the U.S. pulledout from Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s lightning fast takeover forced an enormous global evacuation.

France recalls its ambassador to America over the sub-marine deal which thwarted a French plan for Australia to receive a dozen of diesel-powered submarines.

France was furious because Biden and Scott Morrison (Australian Prime Minister) announced last week that Australia would receive nuclear-powered submarines using U.S. technology. According to U.S. officials, nuclear propulsion will allow Australia’s navy to work more quietly and for longer periods of time, as well as deterrence in the Indo-Pacific.

Biden plans to meet Morrison after the speech in New York, and to sit down with Johnson at The White House on Tuesday afternoon.

Biden is hoping to speak to French President Emmanuel Macron over the next few days in an effort to alleviate his worries. However, the White House stated that Biden does not intend to end the Australia-Australia agreement.

Countering China’s rise has been a central goal of the Biden presidency. Biden’s meetings and remarks this week will be aimed at sending the message that this is an era of “vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War,” the official told reporters on Monday.

Biden will increase U.S. commitments regarding climate change, COVID-19 vaccine donation, said the official, but did not provide details. Biden will convene the virtual COVID-19 summit at the White House, Wednesday. This is in addition to the United Nations meeting.

Biden will be preside at a White House meeting Friday with leaders from the “Quad” countries — Australia, India and Japan — which is seen as retaliating against China’s assertiveness.

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