President Biden’s big speech on diplomacy is tested at United Nations General Assembly: NPR

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Loud rhetoric about multilateralism meets the harsh reality of President Biden in the United Nations General Assembly as he attempts to iron out a dispute with the United States’ longest-serving ally, France.



LEILA FADEL, ANIMATOR:

President Biden is committed to restoring America’s place in the United Nations, taking the lead in the fight against climate change and a global pandemic. But its noble rhetoric on diplomacy and alliances is put to the test by the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan and a diplomatic break with America’s oldest ally, France. NPR’s Michele Kelemen has more on Biden’s first United Nations General Assembly as president.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: President Biden has said the United States is back at the table, focusing on diplomacy, not war.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We have ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan. And as we bring this period of relentless war to a close, we usher in a new era of relentless diplomacy.

KELEMEN: He vowed to stand up for women’s rights in Afghanistan but didn’t say how in the face of the new Taliban government. Biden has made it clear that he is focusing on the Indo-Pacific, while trying to downplay fears of a Cold War with China.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

BIDEN: We are not looking – repeat it – we are not looking for a new cold war or a world divided into rigid blocks.

KELEMEN: This is a fear that UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has raised. He’s worried the two biggest economies will go their separate ways, and he called it a recipe for trouble. His speech offered a grim view of the world today.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

ANTONIO GUTERRES: I’m here to sound the alarm. The world must wake up. We are on the brink and moving in the wrong direction.

KELEMEN: Guterres is sounding the alarm on climate change and vaccine inequalities in the fight against COVID-19. He pointed out that over 90% of Africans are still waiting for their first dose.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

WARS: It is a moral indictment against the state of our world. It is obscenity. We passed the science test, but we get an F in ethics.

KELEMEN: President Biden is hosting a virtual summit tomorrow to set ambitious goals for vaccine distribution. He is also holding separate meetings with his counterparts in the UK and Australia, just days after forming a new partnership with them, a move which has angered France.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN: (Speaking French).

KELEMEN: We thought we had turned a page in the era of unilateralism, unpredictability and lack of respect, said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Australia ditched a 2016 submarine deal with France to buy submarines from the United States, but Le Drian says it’s not just a breach of contract, but a ‘a breach of trust. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison alluded to the dispute when thanking Biden today for focusing on the Indo-Pacific. You got it, he said.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON: But it’s not just about our partnership because our partnership touches so many others, be it our friends in ASEAN countries, in Europe or elsewhere, where we share so much. common interest.

KELEMEN: President Biden wants to work with like-minded democracies to counter China and Russia, although he didn’t mention those countries by name in his speech today.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

BIDEN: All the great powers of the world have a duty, in my opinion, to carefully manage their relations, so that they do not switch from responsible competition to conflict.

KELEMEN: Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, addressed the assembly by video, denouncing US sanctions and stating that the US, I quote, “has failed miserably to impose a Western identity on Afghanistan” . Speaking through an interpreter, Raisi even mentioned the January uprising on Capitol Hill.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

PRESIDENT EBRAHIM RAISI: (By interpreter) From the Capitol in Kabul, a clear message has been sent to the world – the hegemonic system of the United States has no credibility, either inside or outside the United States. country.

KELEMEN: Chinese President Xi Jinping also dealt a thinly veiled blow to the United States, as he spoke through an interpreter.

(EXTRACT FROM THE ARCHIVED RECORD)

PRESIDENT XI JINPING: (From interpreter) Recent developments in the international situation once again show that foreign military intervention and the so-called democratic transformation are only damaging.

KELEMEN: He said the world should reject, as he says, forming little circles or zero-sum games. The comments come just days before President Biden meets with the leaders of the so-called Quad – the United States, Australia, India and Japan. It is a diplomatic group targeting China which says it wants a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

Michele Kelemen, NPR News, State Department.

(EXTRACT FROM LO MOON’S SONG, “LOVELESS”)

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