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Biden seeks to reassure European allies of US engagement

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WASHINGTON President Joe Biden on Friday sought to reassure world leaders of America’s commitment to its European allies after relations eroded under his predecessor.

In his first major address to European leaders since taking office a month ago, Biden said during the virtual version of the Munich annual security conference that “America is back.”

“The range of challenges that the United States and Europe face together is vast and complex,” Biden said from the White House. “The past four years have been difficult, but Europe and the United States must once again lead with confidence.”

Although he never mentioned former President Donald Trump by name, Biden stressed that the United States was determined to re-engage with its allies after four years of an isolationist approach to foreign policy.

“The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance. We will keep faith in Article 5, it is a guarantee. An attack on one is an attack on all; it is our unshakeable wish.” Biden said, referring to the treaty requirement that the United States come to the defense of other NATO members if attacked.

Trump has spent much of his presidency denouncing global alliances, especially NATO, which he called “obsolete,” and questioned Article 5. Biden noted in his speech that the the only time that Article 5 had been invoked was after the US attack on September 11. , 2001.

In a wide-ranging speech, Biden said that if he expected the competition with China to be “tough,” Europe and the United States should deal with China together without falling into a war. cold. “Competition should not block cooperation on issues that concern us all,” he said.

Biden also criticized Russia, accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to portray Western democracies as corrupt.

“The Kremlin is attacking our democracies and militarizing corruption in an attempt to undermine our system of governance,” Biden said. “It is so much easier for the Kremlin to intimidate and threaten individual states than it is to negotiate with a strong and tightly knit transatlantic community.”

Biden warned that the world is at an “inflection point” in the debate over democracy versus autocracy and that in the United States and Europe, “democratic progress is under attack.”

“We are at the heart of a fundamental debate about the future direction of our world. Between those who argue that given all the challenges we face, from the Fourth Industrial Revolution to a global pandemic, autocracy is the best way forward and those who understand that democracy is essential to meet these challenges, ” Biden said.

“We must demonstrate that democracies can still be useful for our people. It is our mission to galvanize.”

Earlier on Friday, Biden attended a virtual Group of Seven meeting with leaders of the world’s largest economies.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson applauded Biden at the meeting for re-engaging the Paris climate agreement, which the United States officially joined on Friday, calling it a “big step forward”.

Biden later stressed at the Munich security conference that he viewed climate change as a “global existential crisis”, saying “we will all suffer the consequences if we fail.”

Biden has attended the Munich Security Conference for decades, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Two years ago, Biden attended the conference as a private citizen, promising America “will come back, don’t doubt it.”

“I’m a man of my word,” Biden said Friday. “America is back.”

Lauren Egan

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