Biden pledges ‘relentless diplomacy’

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — President Joe Biden summoned the world’s nations to forcefully address the festering global issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses in his first address before the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. He decried military conflict and insisted the U.S. is not seeking “a new Cold War” with China.

The president said the halting of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan last month, ending America’s longest war, set the table for his administration to shift its attention to intensive diplomacy at a moment with no shortage of crises facing the globe.

“To deliver for our own people, we must also engage deeply with the rest of the world,” he said.

He added: “We’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy, of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people up around the world.”

Biden offered a robust endorsement of the U.N.’s relevance and ambition at a difficult moment in history, and sought to reassure wary allies of U.S. cooperation after a disagreements in recent months.

He also pledged to double U.S. financial aid to poorer countries to help them switch to cleaner energy and cope with the “merciless” effects of climate change. That would mean increasing assistance to about $11.4 billion a year. This after five months ago doubling the amount to $5.7 billion a year.

As part of the fight against climate change, rich nations for many years have promised to spend $100 billion a year in climate help, but a new study shows that they’re $20 billion a year short. Biden said his new commitment would help rich nations reach their goal.

The $100 billion goal is key because in climate negotiations there’s a dramatic rich-poor nation gap. Developing nations and others are reluctant to curb emissions further of heat-trapping gases without help from developed nations, which in the words of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, are “the guys that created the problem.”

Biden is facing a healthy measure of skepticism from allies during his week of high-level diplomacy. The opening months of his presidency have included a series of difficult moments with friendly nations that were expecting greater cooperation from Biden following four years of Donald Trump’s “America first” approach to foreign policy.

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. He has faced differences over how to go about sharing coronavirus vaccines with the developing world and over pandemic travel restrictions. And there are questions about the best way to respond to military and economic moves by China.

Biden also finds himself in the midst of a fresh diplomatic spat with France, the United States’ oldest ally, after announcing plans — along with Britain — to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The move is expected to give Australia improved capabilities to patrol the Pacific amid growing concern about the Chinese military’s increasingly aggressive tactics, but it upended a French defense contract worth at least $66 billion.

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