Biden will travel to UK and Belgium for first foreign trip
Joe Biden will attend the G7 summit in Cornwall, U.K., and a NATO meeting in Brussels this June in during what will be his first foreign trip as U.S. president, the White House announced Friday.
“This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
The trip signals a new phase of the coronavirus pandemic, which has largely halted international travel – including among world leaders. Biden only last week hosted a foreign leader – Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga – for the first time at the White House, and the U.S. held this week’s global climate summit virtually.
Last year’s Group of Seven meeting was scheduled to be hosted by former President Donald Trump at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland, but was ultimately scrapped when other nations expressed reservations about in-person travel.
Biden will be the second consecutive president to forgo the modern presidential tradition of making Canada the first foreign visit. Trump instead traveled to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy, the Vatican and Belgium for his first trip abroad. But Biden hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his first virtual summit, and spoke with the Canadian leader about vaccine supply earlier this week.
The G-7 talks will focus on “public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies,” and Biden will hold bilateral meetings with other leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Psaki said. In Brussels, Biden will also participate in a U.S.EU Summit to discuss health, economic, climate change, and foreign policy concerns.
The White House indicated that additional stops could be added to Biden’s inaugural trip. The U.S. president has invited Vladimir Putin to a summit hosted by a third country in Europe, though the Russian president has yet to formally accept and White House officials have said planning for the potential meeting is in early stages.