Sunday, 28 February, 2021

Biden is back (virtually) in Munich, and brings the U.S. along

US President Joe Biden speaks virtually to the Munich Security Conference in Germany from the East Room of the White House in Washington DC Biden to Debut at G-7 With Vaccines, Economy and China in Focus
Sandy Nunez | 20 February, 2021, 00:38

In an address to the Munich Security Conference on Friday, the U.S. president declared the alliance between the United States and Europe was back in place after Trump strained relations.

"When I last spoke in Munich, I was a private citizen, I was a professor, not an elected official", Biden told the conference chairman, Wolfgang Ischinger, who was veritably glowing as he emceed a panel that included the American president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Biden was expected to use his address to the Munich conference to stress that the US stands ready to rejoin talks about reentering the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal abandoned by the Trump administration. President Joe Biden is expected to speak at 11:15 a.m. EST.

Biden told USA allies that they must stand firm against the challenges posed by China, Russia and Iran, saying Russia was seeking to weaken the transatlantic alliance and calling for a united front to counter what he called China's abusive economic practices. Trump withdrew the US from the agreement in 2017.

"Our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values". That money had been allocated by Congress in December but has not yet been donated; the first $2 billion tranche will be delivered within days or weeks, with the rest coming over the course of this year and 2022, a senior administration official said.

"Drawing on our strengths and values as democratic, open economies and societies, we will work together and with others to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism and to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of our people and planet", they said in a joint statement after the virtual summit.

On coronavirus vaccines, Biden pledged an additional $2 billion to the COVAX global vaccine-access initiative, a vow that comes as wealthy nations have faced criticism for not helping to deploy coronavirus vaccines faster in the developing world.

The Biden administration had already signaled a break from Trump's nationalist approach. And on Friday he plans to make clear his markedly different approach to Russia, China and Iran, the official told reporters.

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Russian Federation has tried to destabilize and undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and elsewhere, Biden said, asking allies to stand firm with Washington. "Everyone, everyone must play by the same rules". "We will work with our European and other partners as we proceed".

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday told his counterparts from France, Germany and the United Kingdom that the prepared to engage in discussions with Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement on returning to full compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal, according to a joint statement by the three nations.

On the challenge posed by Iran's nuclear programme, Biden will said the United States looks forward to re-engaging in diplomacy amid efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal that Trump abandoned.

The U.S. president will speak specifically about "malign" and concerted action he believes Russian Federation has taken to destabilize and undermine democracy in the United States and Europe and elsewhere, and will call on allies to stand firm with Washington, the official said.

"We are keen to sit down and hear what the Iranians have to say", the official said. He did not say whether he would stick to the deal.

Allies' skepticism about US reliability, reflecting its concern that Biden's successors could return to a nationalist path, were evident Thursday in remarks from French President Emmanuel Macron.

The return of the United States - effective Friday - to the Paris climate agreement was proof of Washington's intentions, he said.

As a candidate, Biden promised to return the 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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Biden has proposed $130 billion in funds for K-12 schools in his $1.9-trillion Covid-19 relief plan, now before Congress. Biden said that smaller class sizes should be in place, and more teachers should be hired to man these smaller classes.