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Opinion | Bidens tries to restore relations with Europe is crucial for its global strategy

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As Mr Biden tacitly acknowledged, building the transatlantic democratic coalition may not be easy. The European Union recently concluded a major trade agreement with China despite hints from the new Biden administration that it is holding up. France is one of several governments pushing for detente rather than a new confrontation with the regime of Vladimir Putin. Although they welcomed Mr Bidens’ statement that his administration is determined to re-engage with Europe, many Europeans clearly have doubts about the definitive demise of Mr Trumps America First’s policies.

Ultimately, Mr. Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping could advance Mr. Bidens’ cause. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov bent over backwards push back and humiliate the head of foreign policy of the European Union during his visit to Moscow this month. And intense criticism of the EU-China deal in light of Beijing’s recent crackdown on Hong Kong and the Uyghur minority could have prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkels Munich declaration that as transatlantic partners and democracies, we must do something to counter China’s global influence.

For now, the Biden administration deserves to be commended for matching its rhetoric with deft opening moves with Europeans. Last week, the administration abandoned the Trump administrations’ self-defeating attempt to unilaterally force the reinstatement of UN sanctions against Iran. rejected by Great Britain, France and all the other members of the Security Council except one. State Secretary Antony Blinken then accepted an offer from the EU to convene talks on reinstating the 2015 international agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program, which the Trump administration repudiated. The twin actions had the effect of putting Iran on the defensive; he replied with recoiling a threat to end cooperation with UN nuclear inspectors.

The State Department too quietly passed last week over the application of sanctions to other companies building the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, the subject of considerable controversy between the Trump administration and Berlin. Mr Biden rightly called the pipeline a bad deal because of its potential to increase Russia’s influence in Europe and weaken Ukraine, which currently benefits from Russian gas transit through its territory. But trying to kill the project when it is 90% complete risks severing relations with Europe’s most powerful nation, which must be at the center of any democratic alliance to fight autocracy. Mr Blinken is said to be looking for ways to alleviate the pipeline problem, perhaps through guarantees to Ukraine. It’s an approach that rightly keeps the new administration focused on the biggest challenge Mr. Biden describes.

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