Almost five months after taking office, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, left on Wednesday for the United Kingdom, the first stop of a European tour during which he hopes to insist on the integrity of the transatlantic alliance in the face of its meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.
Just before taking off on the board of Air Force One, the US president said the purpose of the trip will be “to make it clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are close” allies.
Still on the track at the Andrews military base outside Washington, Biden added that he plans to unveil a global vaccination strategy soon.
Accompanied by the first lady, Jill Biden, the Democratic president will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, where the covid-19 pandemic and climate change will be some of the priorities.
The first stop will be Mildenhall Air Base in the eastern UK, where Biden will address members of the US Air Force.
An individual meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is scheduled for Thursday. On Sunday, she will visit Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.
“My trip to Europe is an opportunity for the United States to mobilize the world’s democracies,” said Biden, who repeats since coming to power that the United States has returned (“America is back”) and intends to become fully involved in world affairs. .
However, after Donald Trump’s tenure, allies “will receive these reassuring words with a bit of skepticism,” says Suzanne Maloney of the Washington-based Brookings think tank.
“Biden’s willingness to reconnect with them will have to overcome not only the scars of the past four years, but also the lingering questions about the health of American democracy,” he writes.
The tenant of the White House will also go to Brussels and hold numerous bilateral meetings in a demanding eight-day trip.
“He has been preparing for it for 50 years,” said his spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, alluding to the long political career of the 78-year-old president, who first entered the Senate in 1972.
“He has known some of those leaders, including President Putin, for decades,” he added.
– 80 million doses –
Much criticized for its delay in sharing its covid-19 vaccines with the rest of the world, the White House is now trying to take the lead in this matter.
“The United States is committed to working on international immunization with the same sense of urgency that we have shown at home,” Biden said.
Washington has just announced that 75% of the 80 million doses of vaccines promised to foreign countries by the end of June will be distributed through the Covax delivery system. The latter was created to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, especially in low-income countries.
The summit with Putin, scheduled for June 16 in Geneva, will be the highlight of this first trip, which comes at a time when Biden is struggling at home, with tensions among his own Democratic ranks.
With issues such as Ukraine, Belarus, the fate of the jailed Russian opponent Alexei Navalni and cyber attacks, the debates are expected to be tough and difficult.
Cybersecurity will be “a matter of our discussion,” Biden said Wednesday before leaving.
The White House, which alternates conciliatory messages and warnings, insists that its expectations are modest. The only advanced goal is to make relations between the two countries more “stable and predictable.”
“The problem is that Putin doesn’t necessarily want a more stable and predictable relationship,” says Alexander Vershbow, a former US diplomat and former NATO number two.
The US presidency gave few details about the development of the face-to-face with the Russian president. He only hinted that, unlike what happened with Trump in Helsinki in 2018, a joint press conference between the two was not on the agenda.
On a lighter topic, before boarding Biden called on reporters present to “pay attention to cicadas,” the insects that currently invade the United States, after one of them landed just on his elbow seconds before.
The day before, another plane that had to transport White House reporters covering the tour delayed its takeoff, because a cloud of cicadas had invaded its engines.
With information from .