Health & Fitness Journal —
President Joe Biden arrives in Washington Wednesday night after a whirlwind of summits on two different continents — his biggest opportunity yet to play as chief diplomat among other world leaders in a world re-emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The trip, which included Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia for summits focused on climate, Southeast Asia and the global economy, came at a difficult time and challenged the president to focus his attention both on the ongoing domestic political struggles and on the international issues ahead .
Biden, for example, would be thousands of miles from Washington as votes would continue to be tabulated at halftime races across the country. He would be in Indonesia while his 2020 rival and predecessor, former President Donald Trump, announced his third run for the presidency in Florida. And all the while, Biden would try to thread the needle of diplomacy with allies and adversaries who may not know if his brand of foreign policy will hold up over the long term.
But flying away from Asia on Wednesday, the president departed after celebrating some political victories abroad, smoothing out some of the more prickly dynamics he faced with key leaders without promising any results, and on-the-job performance of his alliances in an emergency, urged them to get together and hatch a plan.
Here are takeaways from Biden’s journey:
Biden held three-hour talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday on the sidelines of the G20 in Bali, their first face-to-face meeting since Biden took office. The meeting was an opportunity to resolve longstanding tensions. Though the two leaders left without resolving the litany of issues that have helped push US-China relations to the lowest point in decades, they pledged to restore coordination.
Relations have soured rapidly amid economic disputes and an increasingly militarized standoff over Taiwan. The tensions have led to a decline in cooperation in areas where the two countries once shared interests, such as combating climate change and curbing North Korea’s nuclear program.
Emerging from the talks, Biden told reporters that both he and Xi were “upfront and forthcoming” about their disagreements. More importantly, Biden expressed doubts about an imminent invasion of self-governing Taiwan and seemed hopeful his message on avoiding full-scale conflict would be accepted.
“I’m not suggesting this is Kumbaya,” Biden said at a news conference, “but I don’t think there’s cause for concern as either of you have raised a valid question, a new cold war.”
“He was clear, and I was clear, that we will defend American interests and values, promote universal human rights and uphold the international order, and work in lockstep with our allies and partners,” Biden continued. “We will compete vigorously, but I do not seek conflict.”
The White House said in a statement after the meeting Biden had raised concerns about human rights and China’s provocations in Taiwan. But they found at least one point of apparent agreement — that nuclear weapons must not be used in Ukraine, where that nation is attempting to repel a Russian invasion.
In a sign that both men came to a meeting in hopes of patching up the bad relationship, Biden announced that his Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, would visit China and said officials from each country would begin to work together on issues. Formal US-China climate cooperation talks are expected to resume and are part of a broader set of deals between Biden and Xi, two US officials tell Health & Fitness Journal.
China previously halted the talks – which the Biden administration sees as a key area where the two nations need to work together – as part of retaliation for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The US and Chinese climate change envoys are speaking out, but the Biden administration will see what China is willing to do to make concrete progress, one of the US officials said.
The White House had prepared for domestic politics to be over the trip given Trump’s expected announcement and the delay in mid-election results. The issue also appeared to be floating in the minds of the leaders Biden met with throughout the trip.
Biden brought up political headwinds in his favor at the forefront of Monday’s press briefing after forecasts that Democrats would secure their majority in the US Senate.
“The American people have proven once again that democracy is what we are. There was strong opposition from election deniers at every level, from those who wanted to run our states and those who wanted to serve in Congress, and also by those who wanted to monitor the elections,” Biden said.
Speaking of his time in Asia and meeting with world leaders, Biden said the election “sent a very strong message to the entire world that the United States is ready to play” and “is fully committed to the world.” .
Over the course of his meetings in Asia, Biden was approached by fellow leaders who offered congratulations after the mid-term results, a signal that American political contests were being closely watched by leaders on the other side of the world. It was a phenomenon that surprised some of his staff, particularly the keenness with which many of the guides watched.
White House officials were also expecting a split-screen moment this week, with Biden meeting with world leaders in Bali at the same moment his predecessor announced a third presidential bid. But momentum was added when Biden called emergency talks over a missile that killed two people in Poland, at the same time Trump loyalists packed the ballroom at Mar-a-Lago for the former president’s announcement.
Trump’s announcement is sure to draw renewed attention to Biden’s decision to run for re-election. By all reports, including from his closest advisers, Biden will feel more propelled to seek a second term if Trump is in the running.
Biden administration officials had billed the G20 summit as yet another attempt to rally world leaders in support of Ukraine amid ongoing Russian aggression, but the issue took on a new urgency when leaders in Indonesia were woken up early Wednesday to report that a missile had landed in Poland – Ukraine’s western neighbor and NATO ally – killing two people.
NATO and G7 leaders at the summit, led by Biden, held an emergency meeting in Bali to discuss their approach to the blast.
The circumstances of the incident, which directly affected a NATO country for the first time in the almost nine-month conflict, are still unclear.
Biden said after the meeting that preliminary information indicated it was “unlikely” that the missile was launched from Russia, but he could not say conclusively until the investigation was complete. The Polish president and NATO chief both said on Wednesday that the missile strike was likely accidentally caused by Ukraine’s air defenses, with no indication it was a deliberate attack on Poland.
At the G20 – a group of nations including Russia largely focused on the world economy – Russia’s international isolation grew as leaders issued a joint statement condemning its war in Ukraine.
The summit ended on Wednesday with a statement by the heads of state and government, which “strongly regrets the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and calls for its full and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine”.
The 17-page document is a major victory for the US and its allies, which have pushed to end the summit with a strong condemnation of Russia, although it also acknowledges disagreements among member states.
“Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine, stressing that it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities in the global economy,” it said. “There were different views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions.”
Adoption of the joint statement would have required the approval of leaders who have close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin — notably Xi, who declared an “unlimited” friendship between their countries weeks before the invasion, and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While India has distanced itself from Russia, it is less clear whether there has been a shift in position towards China. Xi has called for a ceasefire and agreed to oppose the use of nuclear weapons in a series of bilateral meetings with Western leaders on the fringes of the G20, but he has given no public sign that he is committed to convincing Putin to end the war .