Biden to tell UN he doesn’t want new Cold War with China

US President will seek to reassure allies amid AUKUS backlash from France and criticism for Afghanistan withdrawal

Gino Spocchia
Tuesday 21 September 2021 13:25
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UN General Assembly: Biden faces fresh skepticism from world allies

Joe Biden will tell the United Nations that he does not want “a new Cold War” with China in his keynote speech to the 76th General Assembly this morning in New York.

Mr Biden, in what will be his first address to the UN after becoming president, will seek to reassure the world that “America is back” after four years of Donald Trump, and that Washington DC will hold its own against powers including China.

He will however stress that "vigorous competition with great powers” will not lead to “a new Cold War”, a Biden administration official told Reuters on Monday, as he announces a return to working with allies around the world.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president, who has not spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron since the announcement of a submarine deal with Australia and the United Kingdom last week, will tell the UN in his speech that he is committed to “reestablishing” alliances.

Mr Biden, the press secretary said, will “lay out the case for why the next decade will determine our future, not just for the United States but for the global community”.

He will also tell world leaders assembling in New York about “the importance of re-establishing our alliances after the last several years”, Ms Psaki added, in what will be an apparent acknowledgement of Mr Biden’s predecessor tarnishing of traditional American alliances.

Mr Biden’s speech follows backlash from France, which was apparently snubbed by an agreement between the US, UK and Australia to supply Canberra with nuclear powered submarines that will patrol the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region.

The “AUKUS” agreement, which has raised doubts in Paris about the Biden administration’s commitment to its European allies, undermined a contract for France to supply diesel-powered submarines to Australia.

China, at the same time, warned the US, UK, and Australia that they “should abandon the obsolete Cold War zero sum mentality and narrow-minded geopolitical concepts and respect regional people’s aspiration and do more that is conducive to regional peace and stability and development – otherwise they will only end up hurting their own interests”.

A senior Biden administration official told Reuters that Mr Biden will also tell the UN in his keynote address that withdrawing from Afghanistan in August "closed a chapter focused on war and opens a chapter focused on ... purposeful, effective, intensive American diplomacy”.

Mr Biden was widely accused of chaotically withdrawing from Afghanistan last month, in a move that allowed Taliban militants to retake the country after 20 years of conflict with US and NATO forces. The US and its allies were forced to airlift civilians and refugees from Kabul before an 31 August deadline.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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