President Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday in advance of his highly anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin following a meeting with European Union leaders in Brussels, where he encouraged more transatlantic trade and technological cooperation.
While in Brussels, Biden and European Union leaders announced a deal to put to rest a 17-year trade dispute about subsidies for aircraft manufacturers. The meeting was the latest stop on a trip that Biden started last week at the Group of Seven gathering in Britain. He is scheduled to return to the United States after his meeting with Putin on Wednesday.
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Leaders of the United States and the European Union agreed to address climate change, combat the coronavirus pandemic and strive for a more peaceful world after their meeting.
BRUSSELS — Groucho Marx famously quipped that he did not want to belong to any club that would have him as a member.
President Biden had no such qualms this week.
The 46th U.S. president bounded onto the global playground like a kid at recess on the first day of school, eager to rekindle the old friendships that languished over the summer and to introduce himself to the new kids in class as well.
As Biden made his way through Cornwall, Brussels and, finally, Geneva, the enthusiasm for his return to the world stage was palpable, with him declaring, sometimes multiple times a day, that America is back.
And so is he.
“America is back,” Biden said Tuesday at the Europa building in Brussels.
“America is back on the global scene,” affirmed Charles Michel, president of the European Council. “It’s great news for allies, also great news for the world.”
President Biden announced his first slate of political ambassadors Tuesday, selecting longtime Washington hands for key foreign postings.
Biden will nominate Thomas R. Nides, a former State Department official, to serve as the ambassador to Israel; Julie Smith, a former Biden national security adviser, as the ambassador to NATO; and Ken Salazar, the former interior secretary and U.S. senator from Colorado, as the ambassador to Mexico.
The Washington Post previously reported the three were expected in those spots.
Biden will also nominate C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger III, who safely landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009, as the representative to the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization, and Cynthia Ann Telles, a UCLA professor of psychiatry, to serve as ambassador to Costa Rica.
Leaders of the United States and the European Union agreed to address climate change, combat the coronavirus pandemic and strive for a more peaceful world after their meeting. The leaders of the countries representing more than 780 million people released a statement Tuesday after sessions with Biden.
“We have a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe and secure, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights,” the United States and the E.U. said in a statement.
The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting was to renew the transatlantic partnership and to set a Joint Transatlantic Agenda for the world following the pandemic. The relationship between the U.S. and many global allies was considered strained during the Trump era. And Biden has pledged during his first trip abroad to improve the reputation of the United States around the world.
Addressing the coronavirus pandemic is the first priority of the countries given the devastation the virus has wrought, claiming the lives of more than 3.8 million worldwide.
“We are committed to strengthen global health security, pandemic preparedness, and response to health emergencies and future outbreaks,” the statement said. “We plan to leverage our strengths to help countries build the capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious-disease threats.”
And improving conditions in the developing world that help countries better address financial, health and other challenges will become more of a focus for the nations involved.
“We will enhance our cooperation on sustainable connectivity and high-quality infrastructure,” the statement said. “We intend to continue providing assistance to countries in need, address debt vulnerabilities, and stimulate domestic reforms and increased private investment.”
Efforts to become more environmentally minded included moving further away from coal dependency, protecting oceans, taking climate change seriously and challenging the private sector to adopt tools and practices that better protect the Earth.
“We plan to actively restore nature for the benefit of the health and well-being of our citizens, and step up our cooperation on deforestation and wildlife trafficking,” the statement read.
The importance of creating a world with less conflict and more democracy was highlighted in the agreement while mentioning the importance of honoring international laws and working with organizations like the United Nations Human Rights Council that are committed to peace and security.
“We reject authoritarianism in all its forms around the globe, resisting autocrats’ efforts to create an environment that protects their rule and serves their interests, while undermining liberal democracies,” said the statement, issued on the eve of Biden’s meeting with Putin.
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Amid internal disputes over Russia policy, Biden has chosen a mix of confrontation and cooperation
BRUSSELS — Before embarking on his first meeting with Vladimir Putin as commander in chief, Biden touted the steps he took to punish the Russian president for a range of alleged actions including interference in the 2020 election, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the hacking of U.S. government agencies by Russian cyber spies.
“I checked it out,” Biden told reporters at a news conference in Brussels before he left for Wednesday’s summit in Geneva. “[Putin] was engaged in those activities. I did respond and made it clear I’d respond again.”
In almost immediately leveling economic sanctions against Russia and ruling out a major “reset” in relations, Biden has become the first U.S. president since the fall of the Soviet Union to enter office without seeking a new beginning with Moscow. Biden has also disagreed with some of his own aides and influential lawmakers in the Democratic Party who want a sharper break from the Trump era and a more aggressive response to Russia’s military provocations in Ukraine, cyber operations and targeting of political opponents, including Russian exiles living in Western Europe.
Formal White House backing for scrapping the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) came with the House poised to vote this week on doing so, and could help spur similar action in the Senate where past efforts have sputtered.
Biden took the consequential step while on his first overseas trip since taking office, looking to restore relations unsettled by President Donald Trump and win over allies to a harder line on Beijing and Moscow. On Wednesday, he holds his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Biden did what his predecessor couldn’t or wouldn’t — Trump complained about military entanglements overseas but opposed congressional efforts to roll back the 2002 legislation, even as he drew down U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin’s first interview with an American television news outlet in three years was, perhaps strategically so, a big hit for Russia’s networks.
The Russian president’s one-on-one with NBC News has been widely aired and much discussed across state media platforms. In it, Putin dropped a Russian schoolyard rhyme in response to one question and alluded to the satirical Soviet novel “The Little Golden Calf” in another — references for a Russian audience rather than an American one.
As Putin was pressed on issues, including Moscow’s cyberattacks on the United States and whether he orders the killings of his political opponents, his tone was dismissive and, at times, nonchalant. It mirrored the Kremlin messaging at home ahead of Putin’s planned summit with Biden in Geneva on Wednesday: Putin agreed to this meeting at the request of the Americans but will not be ceding anything.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized Putin on Tuesday — and said he expected Biden to be tougher with the Russian leader than President Donald Trump was in his dealings. Biden will meet with Putin on Wednesday for the first time since entering the White House.
“From the occupation in Crimea to violating political and human rights within its own borders to interfering in Democratic elections across the Western world to imprisoning those that expose his brutal undemocratic regime, Vladimir Putin has spent the past decade interfering in and destabilizing the world order,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
And Schumer — a frequent critic of Trump — holds him partly responsible for Putin’s unchecked behavior, including the damaging impact it has had on neighboring countries. Schumer criticized Trump for suggesting that the United States set up a joint cybersecurity unit with Russia even though the country has a reputation as a haven for cybercriminals.
“For four years . . . Donald Trump turned a blind eye and gave Putin a free pass,” Schumer said. “We all remember President Trump standing next to Vladimir Putin and taking the word of a Russian intelligence officer over America’s intelligence agencies.” The latter is a reference to their meeting in Helsinki in 2019.
Schumer urged Biden to hold the Russian leader accountable for his behavior. And the veteran lawmaker expressed confidence in the president’s ability to do so.
“The U.S. must approach Vladimir Putin with a firm hand and demand accountability in a way that President Trump never did,” he said. “And I expect President Biden will do exactly that.”
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U.S. officials expect summit with Putin to last at least four hours, touch on nuclear arms, cyberattacks and human rights
U.S. officials expect Biden’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Brussels to last at least four hours Wednesday and touch on an array of topics, including nuclear arms, cyberattacks and human rights.
The logistics were previewed for reporters flying with Biden on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva by a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss plans that had not yet been publicly announced.
Putin is expected to arrive at the meeting first, followed by Biden, and then they will both meet with Swiss President Guy Parmelin, the official said.
A small meeting — attended by the two presidents, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and interpreters — is expected to follow. After that, the official said, there will be a larger meeting, with the presidents joined by additional aides.
No meals — or “breaking of bread” — will be involved, the official said.
Before departing, both Putin and Biden are expected to hold separate news conferences.
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As Biden travels overseas, U.S. retail sales report shows moderate economic cool-down
As Biden traveled overseas, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that U.S. retail sales fell 1.3 percent in May, reflecting a moderate economic cool-down after stimulus payments powered healthy jumps in February and March.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had forecast a 0.8 percent decline.
May’s results were driven by a 3.7 percent decline in the sale of autos and related parts, as well as a 5.9 percent drop in building materials. Those sectors had previously benefited from federal pandemic relief spending that temporarily boosted consumption.
Marwan Forzley, chief executive of the retail payments platform Veem, tied the declining retail sales to a vaccinations “roadblock” that is still creating hesitancy for some shoppers.
“There’s still an indication that consumers are uncertain about what normalcy will look like,” Forzley said.
Even so, he expects retail sales to pick up in the coming months as more pandemic restrictions are lifted and travel begins to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Biden says agreement over aircraft manufacturer subsidies can serve as a model
Biden hailed an agreement Tuesday with European leaders regarding subsidies for aircraft manufacturers as a “major breakthrough” and said it could serve as a model for future understandings at a time when China poses challenges for both sides.
Under the terms of the U.S.-European Union deal, the two sides agreed to put aside differences in their nearly 17-year battle over government financial aid for rivals Boeing and Airbus.
“Both the U.S. and EU agreed to suspend our tariffs for five years, and we committed to ensuring a level playing field for our companies and our workers,” Biden said in a statement. “Significantly, we also agreed to work together to challenge and counter China’s non-market practices in this sector that give China’s companies an unfair advantage.”
He said he considered the agreement “a model we can build on for other challenges posed by China’s economic model.”
Biden also said the agreement was evidence that the United States and its allies “are stronger when we work together to advance our shared values like fair competition and transparency.”
The statement was issued as Biden flew on Air Force One from Brussels to Geneva.
Biden departs Brussels en route to Geneva, where he is scheduled to meet Putin on Wednesday
Biden departed Brussels on Tuesday en route to Geneva, where he is scheduled to hold a high-stakes summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
After arriving in Geneva on Air Force One, Biden has a meeting scheduled with Swiss President Guy Parmelin.
Following his meeting with Putin on Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to return to the United States, ending an eight-day trip that included meetings with Group of Seven and NATO leaders, as well as Tuesday’s summit with European Union leaders.
As Biden meets with allies abroad, White House releases domestic terrorism strategy focused on homegrown threats
As Biden continued meeting with allies abroad, the White House on Tuesday released a first-ever national strategy devoted solely to fighting domestic terrorism after more than two decades of successive administrations focusing almost exclusively on the militant Islamist threat.
The strategy comes after a deadly assault on the U.S. Capitol and a resurgence in far-right violent extremism that the Trump administration — with rare exceptions — was loath to acknowledge.
For many terrorism analysts, the strategy was long overdue. Violent far-right extremists have posed the deadliest and most active domestic threat for more than 15 years, though federal resources remained heavily focused on countering foreign terrorism.
Biden said Tuesday that he sees an “enormous opportunity” to strengthen transatlantic trade and technological cooperation, as well as build greener economies, as he delivered opening remarks at a summit with European Union leaders in Brussels.
Speaking at a roundtable, where he was flanked by key U.S. Cabinet members, Biden said the question is whether “like-minded countries sharing the same values” can work together “to improve the living standards not only of our people but the rest of the world.”
“I think we have the capacity to do that,” he said. “It’s going to take an awful lot of hard work and determination.”
“One of the reasons I’m optimistic is because of our younger generation in Europe, as well as the United States,” Biden continued. “The young generation, this one, is the best-educated in American history. It’s also the least prejudiced, the most open and the most committed.”
Today’s leaders, he said, have a responsibility to provide policies that enable the younger generation to flourish.
Biden, E.U. eliminate long-running aircraft trade dispute, but other Trump tariffs still stand in the way
BRUSSELS — President Biden and European Union leaders reached a deal Tuesday to end a 17-year trade dispute about subsidies for aircraft manufacturers, officials said, a significant step in calming trade relations after the fury of the Trump years.
The five-year truce, which was announced at the outset of a Tuesday meeting in Brussels between Biden and the top leaders of E.U. institutions, was the latest effort in a transatlantic reconciliation tour that the new president started last week at the Group of Seven summit in Britain.
At each stop, including at NATO on Monday, Biden has tried to mend ties that were damaged by President Donald Trump, who often sidled up to traditional American adversaries and targeted longtime allies with vitriol.