Biden Heads to Europe for Summits with Allies and Putin | Voice of America
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden headed to Europe Wednesday on his first overseas trip as the U.S. leader, set to hold high-level talks with other Western heads of state before meeting next week with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Geneva.
As he boarded Air Force One, Biden said his goals for the trip were strengthening ties with allies, while “making it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight.”
Biden also said he would be announcing a new strategy for vaccinating the world against the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has vaccinated more than half of its adult population, but impoverished countries in Africa and elsewhere have trailed far behind that level of inoculations.
As he left for Britain, the White House said the trip “will highlight America’s commitment to rallying the world’s democracies, coming together to shape the rules of the road for the 21st century, defend our values and tackle the world’s biggest challenges.”
Biden is holding talks Thursday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson before attending the G-7 summit of leading industrial nations in Cornwall, Britain, from Friday to Sunday.
He and first lady Jill Biden are also meeting Sunday with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle before leaving for a NATO summit in Brussels on Monday.
While in the Belgian capital, Biden will hold separate talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a NATO ally who has angered Washington by his go-it-alone stance in buying a Russian-made air defense system that is incompatible with NATO’s.
On Tuesday, Biden meets with Belgian King Philippe and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, as well as attending a U.S.-European Union summit.
In Geneva on Wednesday, Biden is meeting with Swiss Confederation President Guy Parmelin, before his potentially contentious sit-down with Putin — the first time the two leaders have met face to face since Biden became president.
Throughout his trip, Biden said he hopes to present a different face for the U.S. than former President Donald Trump, who often contended that NATO allies were not for the most part contributing their fair share to support the seven-decade-old Western military alliance.
The White House said Biden would “affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, trans-Atlantic security and collective defense.”
At the G-7 summit, the White House said Biden “will reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key U.S. policy priorities on public health, economic recovery and inclusive growth, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies.”
Meeting with Putin
Biden’s relations with Putin are already strained.
Trump held Putin blameless of allegations that Russia intruded in the 2016 U.S. presidential to help Trump’s election victory.
By contrast, Biden, in early phone conversations with Putin, has bluntly told the Russian leader the U.S. holds the Kremlin responsible for election interference, a massive cyberattack on U.S. government agencies and the poisoning of Putin opponent Alexey Navalny. Each country has expelled some of the other’s diplomats from Moscow and Washington.
In a television interview, Biden also said he considered Putin to be a “killer,” a claim Putin quickly turned against the U.S. by citing its slaughter of Native Americans in the 18th century settlement of the country, and deadly abuse of minorities throughout its history.
Steve Herman contributed to this report.