President Biden heads to New York City on Monday afternoon for the United Nations General Assembly where he is expected to address the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and the turbulent situation in Afghanistan.
He’ll also seek to use his diplomatic skills to ease tensions with the French government following a fierce backlash in recent days after the U.S. and Britain announced they would help equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The deal undercuts a contract worth $66 billion for a fleet of diesel submarines built by a French subcontractor.
Claiming the U.S. betrayed one of its closest and oldest allies, French President Emmanuel Macron recalled his ambassadors to the U.S. and Australia for consultations in Paris. With a new week and a fresh start, Biden and Macron are expected to speak by phone in the coming days, a French government spokesman said.
About 100 world leaders are expected to join Biden at the traffic-clogging annual event in midtown Manhattan, which is taking place under the ongoing grim shadow of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Reflecting the concerns about the spread of coronavirus with hundreds of diplomats converging on the Big Apple, Biden will spend just two days physically in the city and will conduct more diplomacy remotely from Washington, D.C.
The president is scheduled to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Monday evening and address the assembly on Tuesday morning.
At a virtual COVID-19 summit Wednesday, Biden will urge fellow leaders to step up vaccine-sharing commitments, address oxygen shortages around the globe and deal with other critical pandemic-related issues.
The president also has invited the prime ministers of Australia, India and Japan to Washington and is expected to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House.
His main goal will be to continue to show to the world that America is returning to its place as a stable leader of the world’s democracies after four tumultuous years under former President Trump.
“We believe our priorities are not just American priorities, they are global priorities,” said Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.