REPLAY: 'Transatlantic alliance is back', Biden says in Munich speech

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Joe Biden will make his first big appearance on the global stage as president on Friday, offering Group of Seven allies and other foreign leaders a glimpse into his plans to dramatically reshape US foreign policy even as he deals with a number of worldwide crises that are coming to a head.

Democracies, not autocracies, offer the best path forward for the world, Biden said.

"We have to push back against the Chinese government's economic abuses and coercion that undercut the foundations of the global economic system", the president said in his address to the Munich conference.

And, he acknowledged, "in so many places, including in Europe and the United States, democratic progress is under assault".

An administration official who briefed reporters said the new US president is trying to reassure allies and adversaries America is committed to global alliances.

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.

Earlier, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said preparations were underway for the first call between President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Joe Biden.

Biden was also expected to address economic and national security challenges posed by Russian Federation and China, as well as the two-decade war in Afghanistan, where he faces a May 1 deadline to remove the remaining 2,500 US troops under a Trump administration negotiated peace agreement with the Taliban.

He went on: "If we work together with our democratic partners, with strength and confidence, I know that we will meet every challenge and outpace every challenger".

"Our partnerships have endured and grown through the years because they are rooted in the richness of our shared democratic values", Biden said.

To that end, the White House said Biden would be encouraging G-7 partners to make good on their pledges to COVAX, an initiative by the World Health Organization to improve access to vaccines, even as he reopens the US spigot.

"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.

Rolling back Trump's nationalist policies has already become a hallmark of Biden's short time at the White House. He plans to join them for an in-person summit hosted by Britain this summer, the official told reporters. "Everyone, everyone must play by the same rules".

On Iran, Biden reiterated his pledge to return to worldwide negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear program, but said "we must address Iran's destabilizing activities across the Middle East". He echoed Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's comments Thursday expressing a desire to renew an agreement once Iran returns to full compliance with the original terms.

© Christopher Black/WHO via Reuters, FILE Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization attends a news conference on the outbreak of coronavirus disease in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 12, 2021.

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 must address Iran's destabilizing activities across the Middle East", Biden said. He did not say whether he would stick to the deal.

The speech, following a videoconference of G7 leaders convened by U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, marked a triumphant return to the world stage for Biden, the former vice president and globetrotting senator who long chaired the Foreign Relations Committee while in Congress.

Biden's turn on the world stage comes as the USA on Friday officially rejoins the Paris climate agreement, the largest worldwide effort to curb global warming.

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.



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