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February 25, 2021
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Biden says US 'ready to lead' again, vows to work with allies

WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) — President-elect Joe Biden said on Tuesday the United States will be “ready to lead” again on the global stage, turning the page on President Donald Trump’s unilateralist policies as he pledged to work together with Washington’s allies.

Introducing his new foreign policy and national security team, the Democratic former vice president signaled that he intends to steer the United States away from the “America First” nationalism pursued by Trump after taking office on Jan. 20.

The Republican incumbent has unsettled many U.S. allies, in Europe and elsewhere, with an antagonistic approach toward the NATO alliance and trade relations, abandonment of international agreements and warm relationships with authoritarian leaders.

Biden said his team, which includes trusted aide Antony Blinken as his nominee for U.S. secretary of state, would shed what the president-elect described as “old thinking and unchanged habits” in its approach to the world.

“It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values,” Biden said at the event in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

The world is much changed since Democrats were last in the White House four years ago. China is on the rise and emboldened, Russia has sought to further assert its influence, U.S. influence has waned as it has pulled out of various accords, and American moral authority has been dented by turmoil at home.

Biden also has tapped Jake Sullivan as national security adviser, Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as secretary of homeland security and John Kerry as envoy on climate-related issues.

U.S. foreign policy under a Biden administration is likely to focus on more of a multilateral and diplomatic approach aimed at repairing Washington’s relationships with key U.S. allies and taking new paths on issues such as climate change.

Biden said he has been struck in calls with roughly 20 world leaders “by how much they’re looking forward to the United States reasserting its historic role as a global leader over the Pacific, as well as the Atlantic, all across the world.” Biden added that it is his core belief that “America is strongest when it works with its allies.”

“That’s how we truly keep America safe without engaging in needless military conflicts, and our adversaries in check and terrorists at bay,” Biden said, also mentioning the challenges of controlling the current pandemic and potential future ones, climate change, nuclear proliferation, cyber threats and the spread of authoritarianism.

Biden did not reference the country’s longest war — the Afghanistan conflict — as Trump moves to reduce U.S. forces.

Members of Biden’s team underscored his message.

“I want to say to you,” Thomas-Greenfield said, “America is back. Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.”

Biden has moved swiftly to assemble his team and make Cabinet choices after defeating Trump in the Nov. 3 election. Trump has waged a flailing legal battle to try to overturn the results, claiming without evidence that the election was stolen from him.

Biden urged the Senate to give his nominees who require confirmation by the chamber “a prompt hearing” and expressed hope he could work with Republicans “in good faith to move forward for the country.”

“Let’s begin that work … to heal and unite America as well as the world,” Biden added.

Not long after Biden’s event, Trump made an appearance at the White House for the annual ceremonial pardoning of a turkey ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, remarking, “That’s a lucky bird.”

Transition moves forward

Trump has said he will never concede the election but after weeks of limbo his administration on Monday finally gave the green light for the formal transfer of power to begin. That process had been held up despite Biden emerging as the clear winner and world leaders recognizing him as the next president.

Critics have said Trump’s refusal to accept the results and approve the transition of power to Biden undermined U.S. democracy and undercut the incoming administration’s ability to combat the intensifying coronavirus pandemic that has killed about 258,000 Americans and left millions more without jobs.

Trump’s strategy had hinged on stopping certain states that he lost from certifying their results before the electors from the 50 states and the District of Columbia convene on Dec. 14 as an Electoral College to formally select the next president.

That approach has hit a brick wall even as Trump’s courtroom losses mount. Michigan on Monday certified its results showing Biden the winner. Pennsylvania’s governor said on Tuesday his state had done so as well. Trump won both states in his 2016 victory.

The Nevada Supreme Court on Tuesday also confirmed Biden had won the state, sending the results to Nevada’s Democratic governor for final certification, the Nevada secretary of state’s office said.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, David Morgan, Patricia Zengerle, Humeyra Pamuk; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom, Doina Chiacu, Lisa Lambert, Karen Freifeld, Noeleen Walder and Tom Hals; Writing by Paul Simao: Editing by Ross Colvin and Will Dunham)

© Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020

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