Biden promises 'relentless diplomacy,' defense of democracy at UN

Reuters
Reuters

The United States would help resolve crises from Iran to the Korean Peninsula to Ethiopia, Biden told the annual UN General Assembly gathering.



By Reuters

Published: Tue 21 Sep 2021, 9:04 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Sep 2021, 7:19 AM

US President Joe Biden mapped out a new era of vigorous competition without cold war in his first United Nations address on Tuesday, promising restraint from the US military and new commitments to cope with climate change.

The United States would help resolve crises from Iran to the Korean Peninsula to Ethiopia, Biden told the annual UN General Assembly gathering.

He said the US would return to the Iranian nuclear deal in “full” if Tehran does the same. He said America was “working” with China, France, Russia, Britain and Germany to “engage Iran diplomatically and to seek a return to” the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which America left in 2018.

“We’re prepared to return to full compliance if Iran does the same,” he added.

Biden said a sovereign and democratic Palestinian state is the “best way” to ensure Israel’s future.

“We must seek a future of greater peace and security for all people of the Middle East,” he added.

The world faces a “decisive decade”, he said, and leaders need to work together to fight a raging coronavirus pandemic, a warming planet and cyber threats. He said the United States would double its financial commitment on climate aid and spend $10 billion to fight hunger.

Biden didn’t address America’s rising authoritarian competitor, China, directly but sprinkled implicit references to Beijing throughout his speech, as the United States butts heads with China in the Indo-Pacific and on trade and human rights issues.

He said the United States will compete vigorously, economically and to push democratic systems and rule of law.

“We’ll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technical exploitation or disinformation, but we’re not seeking - I’ll say it again, we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” he said.

Biden came to the United Nations facing criticism at home and abroad for a hasty US. withdrawal from Afghanistan that left some Americans and Afghan allies still in that country and struggling to get out.

His vow for allied unity is being tested by a three-way agreement between the United States, Australia and Britain that undermined a French submarine deal and left France feeling stabbed in the back.

“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy,” Biden said.

Biden vowed to defend vital U.S. national interests, but said “the mission must be clear and achievable,” and the American military “must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world.”

Biden, a Democrat, hoped to present a compelling case that the United States remains a reliable ally to its partners around the world after years of “America First” policies pursued by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Overcoming global challenges “will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity,” he said.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who begins a second five-year term at the helm of the world body on Jan. 1, warned earlier of the dangers of the growing gap between China and the United States, the world’s largest economies.

“I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence - and ultimately two different military and geo-political strategies,” Guterres said.

“This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War,” Guterres said.


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