President Joe Biden is set to give his first address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday morning following a series of foreign policy crises — before going on to hold separate bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of both Australia and the UK.
Biden, who arrived in New York City late Monday evening, is scheduled to deliver his UN address at 10 a.m.
He will go on to host a bilateral meeting in New York with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at noon before heading back to the White House to meet with the British PM Boris Johnson.
During his UN address, Biden is expected to make the case for American leadership on the world stage and call on allies to move together on issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses.
Biden has faced skepticism from allies in recent weeks over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, pandemic travel restrictions and a diplomatic spat with France.
The issues with France erupted when Biden, along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, announced plans last week to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines.
The initiative, which was meant to send a warning signal to China and repair a slight to Australia over the Afghanistan withdrawal, caused outrage after it upended a French defense contract worth at least $66 billion to sell diesel-powered submarines to Australia.
Despite the latest fiasco, a senior administration official said Monday that the president’s UN speech to the world body would focus on “closing the chapter on 20 years of war” and turn to other issues — including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, trade and what the official described as “vigorous competition with great powers, but not a new Cold War.”
The central theme of the speech, the official added, would be “purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy defined by working with allies and partners to solve problems that can’t be solved by military force”.
Biden met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ahead of Tuesday’s address, during which Biden repeated his mantra “America is back” and that “we believe in the United Nations and its values.”
“The vision of the United Nations has never been short in ambition, any more than our Constitution,” Biden added.
“Ambition matters. Today, governments must continue to work together in a system to build on international law to deliver equitable prosperity, peace and security for everyone. This is as vital and important today as it was 76 years ago.”