Biden works to convince the world U.S. is back as Asia swing starts

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Biden arrived here on Saturday, the second stop on a week-long foreign trip to try to reassure the international community that, regardless of political obstacles back home, the U.S. can still become a credible world leader.

On the heels of a midterm election that gave him better-than-expected results—yet the final results could leave his party in full control of Congress, complicating his goals—he raised the issue and the rally. have used both cases so far to suppress other nations.

During a speech in Egypt at the COP27 climate conference, Biden presented the United States as a global leader in fighting climate change. And for a summit of Southeast Asian nations in Phnom Penh, he immediately began trying to unite other nations to counter China’s growing economic and military threat.

However, one of the president’s enduring challenges has been convincing his fellow leaders that former President Donald Trump’s disruption of US foreign policy was an aberration, not a lasting change. Hours into his presidency, Biden moved to rejoin the Paris climate accords that Trump abandoned, and after voters decided on his first two years in office last week, he He sought to signal that his declaration of renewed US leadership was not in jeopardy.

Biden hopes to dispel any notion that GOP hardliners led by Trump, who could announce another presidential campaign within days, could gain power and side with his administration. could torpedo any commitments made on climate change. In addition, he is working to unite the world against Russian aggression and demonstrate that the U.S. commitment to the Ukraine cause is not in jeopardy, despite potential Republican control of Congress.

When he began meetings with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, he said they would focus on “the biggest issues of our time,” including energy, climate, health and national security, as well as The nations here are feeling the effects of the war with Russia. Ukraine. He called ASEAN “the heart of my administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy”.

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The president also said he hoped to “defend against major threats to command and control and threats to the rule of law,” an apparent reference to China.

Before meeting with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Biden thanked Sen for his “unequivocal condemnation” of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Still, even Biden doesn’t have to look far for a reminder of the uncertainty presented by domestic politics: During a nearly 20-hour trip on Air Force One over the past few days, Tele Vision’s screens were linked to CNN’s election coverage. Results

A big test will come on Monday during the president’s third and final stop in Bali, when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 summit. White House officials said they did not expect significant progress on major issues and described the meeting as an effort to keep open lines of communication between the two countries. This will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Biden took office.

While some Democrats feared a midterm sweep would weaken them globally, top White House aides say the relatively successful outcome should be encouraging. “Tuesday’s results show that the American people are sending him into a stronger position on the world stage,” national security adviser Jack Sullivan told reporters before the trip.

Biden has often noted that he has faced skepticism abroad after Trump’s stormy tenure, citing a meeting of the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies early in his presidency. “I said, ‘America is back,'” Biden said. “And one of the leaders looked at me and said, ‘How long?’ “

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“He wants to reassure people, but those assurances are very difficult given our political situation. And I think the Europeans are right to question how long we’ll be back,” said Samantha, a fellow at the Brookings Institution. Gross said. which specializes in climate and energy.

Rosa Balfour, director of think tank Carnegie Europe in Brussels, said on Wednesday That while the topic of American credibility among European partners is “a fair question,” the concern remains. After the results of the mid-term elections, there was some calm.

“Everybody in the European capitals was very, very, very worried,” Balfour said. “The reality is that it seems there hasn’t been. [Republican] The wave… is actually very promising.”

Still, some anxiety remains. And while the temperature has dropped, he said, it’s clear to observers from afar that the fever hasn’t broken. “Perhaps there is no sense of urgency that Europe needs to prepare for an adversary, perhaps even more adversarial than President Trump in 2024,” he said.

Biden’s stop in the seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in the Sinai Peninsula was intended to serve as a stark reminder of the importance his administration places on climate change. He had not initially planned to attend, but after lengthy discussions with counselors he rearranged his schedule.

Before his speech there, Biden met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is hosting the conference and has faced criticism for his dismal human rights record.

The Biden administration decided in September to freeze $130 million in security aid to Egypt for a second year because of a number of concerns over the issue, including arbitrary arrests, excessive pretrial detentions and government jailers. includes violence by. Political and media freedoms have also been curtailed under Sisi.

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According to White House advisers, Biden and Sisi had a wide-ranging discussion about human rights, with Biden raising specific cases and pushing for the release of pro-democracy activist Alaa Abdel Fattah.

“I can say emphatically that we believe Alaa Abdel Fattah should be released,” Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One after a stopover in Egypt. He notes the “continuing debate” over whether a diplomatic resolution is best pursued through “public pressure or private engagement” and then opts for the latter.

“In terms of talking through the details of our discussions with the Egyptians, I’d like to leave those behind closed doors for the moment,” Sullivan said.

One of Biden’s goals during his visit to ASEAN is to signal to key allies such as Japan and South Korea that the United States is supporting them as China gains more economic power.

“It’s certainly the case that countries in the region don’t want confrontation or conflict between major powers,” Sullivan said. “But they also want a much greater American presence — a forward-deployed presence in the region. And the reason they want that is because they see the United States as an important anchor of peace and stability.

“There’s no question that the president comes with a meaningful value proposition to the rest of the region that says, ‘America is the resident power of the Pacific. We’ve played an important role in the past. We can play an important role today. And we have every intention of doing so in the future,” Sullivan said.

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