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President Biden's First Foreign Trip

On June 8th The Wilson Center held a discussion previewing President Biden’s first international trip. The president will be involved in a cascade of summits—the G7 in the UK; the NATO and U.S.-EU Summits in Belgium; and the U.S.-Russia Summit in Switzerland. Wilson Center experts offered an analysis of President Biden’s expectations for the trip and the realities he will face in achieving his goals.

What are the goals for the White House?

  • "I think the White House is trying to project this message of renewed unity among leading like-minded democracies. It's really a political message that the United States is back, its back with its closest partners, and together, those partners are trying to shore up their democratic resilience, their unity, and to sort of move the world from sickness to health on a variety of fronts."

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    There'll be, I think, a new emphasis on what's called resilience. That is all of the kinds of arteries that keep our free societies open are susceptible now to disruptive attack or change, you think about the malware attacks in the United States the ransomware, but also cyber activities, hybrid. All of that is creating a new imperative for allies to think about how to become more resilient. That's a new security dimension the Alliance hasn't really done as much on as it could. And I think they will be challenged to do more"

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The Biden-Putin Summit

  • "This relationship is deeply fraught. There are any number of risk factors—around Russian cyber intrusions in the United States, the conflict in Ukraine, the crisis in Belarus, and any number of post-Soviet countries, as well as, of course, the internal situation in Russia, the treatment of the Russian opposition the independent press, which we've covered extensively and a recent series of Kennan Institute events. I think any of those things could potentially metastasize within the next week into the kind of crisis that would that would effectively make the summit pointless."

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Climate change policy goals

  • "I do think that if both nations, especially the United States, are looking for places to actually cooperate with the Russians, like we do in the International Space Station, and trying to find a path towards some amount of productive engagement, I would argue that the Arctic may provide for us at least a few of those pathways to a more predictable and stable relationship between these two countries."

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Japan, South Korea and the G7

  • "South Korea has been invited to be part of the G7 discussions as an observer country, but it's pretty much expected that there will not be a meeting between Prime Minister, Suga, and President Moon Jae In on the sidelines, even though relations between South Korea and Japan are at an all-time low and the United States depends heavily on solid relations between Tokyo and Seoul for regional stability. It is I believe a lost opportunity to enhance relations between the two countries. "

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The significance of this G7 meeting

  • "I think that this has the potential to be the most consequential meeting of the G7 since after the attacks of September 11, 2001, primarily because of the immense challenges that the G7 is facing and reacting to. We've already talked about what's been explicitly stated—the COVID 19 pandemic, the rise of China, and climate change. I think there's another challenge that the G7  is tacitly reacting to, and that is the Trump administration, and other populist movements counter to globalization and multilateralism that are happening in other parts of the world and especially in the G7.

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