Biden is heading to Europe for his first time as president. What's on his agenda, and what to expect


WASHINGTON – Joe Biden embarks Wednesday on his first foreign trip as president, an eight-day swing across Europe that will give him a chance to shore up frayed alliances with U.S. allies and meet face to face with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions with Moscow.

He’ll also get to enjoy one of the perks of the presidency: a visit with Queen Elizabeth II.

Biden, who has been on the world stage for nearly five decades as senator, vice president and now president, has hosted the leaders of Japan and South Korea at the White House since taking office Jan. 20 but held off on traveling abroad because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The pandemic is still entrenched in much of the world, but Biden will arrive in the United Kingdom as the European Union reopens its borders to vaccinated tourists, including Americans.

Biden to confer with Europe allies, confront Putin

Joe Biden is heading to Europe for his first international trip as president to strategize with G7 democracies and other NATO allies before confronting Russian President Vladimir Putin about global issues during a meeting in Geneva. (June 7)

AP

The focal point of Biden’s visit will be the Group of Seven summit, or G-7, which opens Friday in Carbis Bay, a seaside resort in Cornwall in southwest England. The summit is the first gathering of leaders of the world’s largest economies in nearly two years and the first of the post-Donald Trump era. Trump feuded with several of the group’s leaders during his presidency, and Biden sees the summit as a chance to heal those scars.

“In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age,” Biden wrote last week in an op-ed published in The Washington Post.

Asked what Biden is doing to prepare for the trip, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed to Biden’s long political career.

“He’s been getting ready for 50 years,” Psaki said Tuesday. “He has been on the world stage. He’s known a number of these leaders for decades, including President Putin and including a number of the leaders he’ll see at NATO and he’ll see at the G-7. Now this is an important opportunity for him to see them in person, and there’s nothing like face-to-face engagement in diplomacy.”

Here’s a closer look at what’s on Biden’s schedule:

Biden, meet Boris

Thursday: Biden will meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a meeting the White House hopes will provide a chance to “affirm the special relationship between our two nations.”

Before Biden heads to the G-7, he will meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a personality who is often seen as a kindred spirit with Trump.

Biden spoke with Johnson for the first time as president three days after taking office. The White House said Biden conveyed his intention “to strengthen the special relationship between our countries and revitalize trans-Atlantic ties.”

Biden used similar language in his op-ed, writing that the Johnson will provide a chance to “affirm the special relationship between our two nations.”

A profile published Monday in The Atlantic said Johnson doesn’t like the term “special relationship” and thinks it sounds “needy and weak,” which could add an element of tension as the two leaders mull issues such as the U.K.’s withdrawal from the European Union, or Brexit.

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