Biden looks to reset relations with Europe trip

US president travels to Europe on Wednesday for his first foreign trip in office

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.
US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are expected to meet later this month in Geneva, Switzerland.

US President Biden will look to reset relations with G7 members on Wednesday, as he take his first foreign trip since coming to office.

The president will start his trip to the UK by meeting Queen Elizabeth II, then heading to south-west England for the G7 summit in Cornwall.

It will be the first in-person meeting between the leaders of the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan since the Covid-19 pandemic closed off much of the world in March 2020.

President Biden is hoping to reset relations which were often tense during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Mr Trump frequently accused the G7 and other Western groups for wasting American money.

At the 2018, summit in Charlevoix, Canada, Mr Trump refused to sign the agreed-upon communique because of a spat with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he called "weak" and "dishonest".

“This trip is about realising 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,” Mr Biden wrote in The Washington Post.

Turning the page from the Trump era may be easier than he expects, experts say.

“One thing people obviously do understand is that he isn't Trump. And that is that in itself is enough to ensure that the vibes are going to be good,” said Francois Heisbourg, a senior adviser for Europe at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank in Paris.

After the G7, the president travels to Brussels for the Nato summit and then to Geneva, Switzerland, where he is expected to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two leaders have traded barbs during Mr Biden’s first few months in office.

When asked by broadcaster ABC’s George Stephanopoulos if he thought Mr Putin was a “killer", Mr Biden replied: “I do".

The Russian leader responded by challenging Mr Biden to a debate.

While relations have been tense, Mr Heisbourg expects the meeting to go smoothly.

“These two will treat each other with respect. Now that in itself will be a big change because Putin certainly didn't treat Trump with respect,” Mr Heisbourg told The National.

“The trip could be more professional, the meeting could be more professional than anything we've seen between an American president and the current Russian president.”

In his opinion article, Mr Biden said he will be firm with the Russian president, but that the US “does not seek conflict”.

Updated: June 6, 2021 10:49 PM

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