US president Biden leaves on his maiden foreign trip to Europe

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Washington, Jun 9 (PTI) US President Joe Biden on Wednesday left on his maiden official overseas trip to Europe where he is scheduled to hold bilateral and multilateral meetings with over a dozen world leaders and discuss issues like the COVID-19, the Afghan pullout and the security challenges posed by Russia and China.

First Lady Jill Biden accompanied her husband on his more than a week-long overseas trip as the US president.

Several of Biden’s top national security officials joined him on Air Force One as it lifted off from Joint Andrews Air Force Base on Wednesday morning.

In addition to attending three multilateral summits G-7 in the United Kingdom, NATO and US-European Union in Brussels, Biden would fly to Geneva for a bilateral summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

“Strengthening the alliance and make it clear to Putin and to China that Europe and the United States are tight, and the G7 is going to move,” he told reporters at Andrews Air force base before boarding the presidential aircraft.

Responding to a question, Biden indicated that he had a plan for vaccinating the world.

“I have one and I’ll be announcing it,” he said.

On the Russian summit, Biden confirmed that cyberattacks would be a subject of the discussion.

Travelling with the president are Jen O’Malley Dillon, Deputy Chief of Staff; Bruce Reed, Deputy Chief of Staff; Mike Donilon, Senior Advisor to the President; Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor; Anthony Bernal, Advisor to the First Lady; Stephen Goepfert Personal Aide to the President and Jordan Montoya, Director of Advance and Trip Director.

The visits, at its core, will advance the fundamental thrust of Biden's foreign policy to rally the world's democracies, to tackle the great challenges of the time, National Security Advisor (NSA) Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Monday.

At the G-7, Sullivan said Biden will join with his fellow leaders to lay out a plan to end the COVID-19 pandemic with further specific commitments towards that end.

He will also join his fellow leaders to announce a new initiative to provide financing for physical, digital and health infrastructure in developing a high standard, climate-friendly, transparent and rules-based alternative to what China is offering, he said.

“The G-7 leaders will make a number of significant commitments on climate, on labour standards, on anti-corruption and on ransomware,” he said.

“On NATO, President Biden will address enduring security challenges that have been at the core of the alliance for a long-time including Russia and coordinating the remaining period of the drawdown of the forces from Afghanistan. But they will also focus on emerging security challenges to the alliance critically including cyber and the challenge posed by China,” Sullivan said.

At the US-EU Summit the president and European Union leaders will focus on aligning their approaches to trade and technology so that democracies and not anyone else, not China or other autocracies, are writing the rules for trade and technology for the 21st Century, he said.

Sullivan said when Biden returns to Washington next week, the United States will be in a materially stronger position to manage the major threats and challenges America faces- the COVID pandemic, climate change, China, cybersecurity, Russia and shaping the rules of trade and technology for the future. PTI LKJ MRJ AKJ MRJ