Joe Biden to highlight transatlantic ties, multilateralism in his first foreign trip

President Biden will highlight his “commitment to multilateralism” at the Group of Seven meetings in the U.K. and his support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at its summit in Belgium before meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland in his first foreign trip since taking office, the White House said Thursday.

Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will meet Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle while in England, and the president will try to work through thorny issues with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of NATO meetings in Brussels.

“This trip will highlight America’s commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

Mr. Biden’s message to foreign leaders is a sharp break from his predecessor President Trump, who preferred bilateral dealmaking and often criticized NATO partners as free riders who didn’t pay enough in defense costs relative to the U.S.

G-7 summits during Mr. Trump’s term were also marked by acrimony.

While dropping the sharp tone, though, the Biden White House said U.S. officials will continue to speak about “effective burden-sharing” with NATO allies who are falling short of defense spending goals.

The White House said Mr. Biden will use the G-7 Summit in Cornwall to reaffirm U.S. ties with the U.K. and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and hold one-on-one meetings with other western leaders.

Mrs. Biden will return to the U.S. after the June 13 meeting with the queen, while Mr. Biden will head to Belgium for the June 15 NATO summit.

“The leaders will discuss a common agenda to ensure global health security, stimulate global economic recovery, tackle climate change, enhance digital and trade cooperation, strengthen democracy and address mutual foreign policy concerns,” Ms. Psaki said.

Mr. Biden will meet with King Philippe of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Yet his sit-down with Mr. Erdogan will be a bigger highlight since the countries haven’t seen eye to eye on a number of issues.

Mr. Erdogan purchased a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system, causing a rift with NATO and leading the Trump administration in 2019 to kick Turkey out of the F-35 fighter jet program.

Mr. Biden also officially recognized the former Ottoman Empire’s mass killing of Armenians during World War I as genocide, enraging Ankara.

The final leg of Mr. Biden’s trip, in Geneva, will be dominated by the president’s sit-down with Mr. Putin. The president said he wants a  “stable and predictable” relationship with the rival, though some critics say Mr. Biden appears to be rewarding Mr. Putin with a one-on-one meeting after a string of cyberattacks from his country and the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

The White House said Mr. Biden will bring up recurring ransomware attacks out of Russia and push Mr. Putin to do more to stop them.


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