Monday, 6 Dec 2021

Biden heads to G-20 to talk energy prices, supply chain woes

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – President Joe Biden, hoping to signal US re-engagement with allies after four years of Donald Trump’s “America First” policies, heads to a meeting of Group of 20 (G-20) leaders in Europe this week to discuss energy prices, the Iranian nuclear programme and supply chain issues, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday (Oct 26).

Biden will also seek to cement progress on a global minimum tax during his trip, Sullivan told reporters.

Biden leaves for Italy on Thursday.

He is slated to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Friday before kicking off meetings with leaders of the world’s largest economies in Rome.

After the G-20 meetings, Biden travels to Glasgow, Scotland, to attend the UN climate change conference COP26.

Sullivan said the United States and Europe were united ahead of the two summits and noted that China’s President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin were not attending in person. Xi has not travelled outside of China since the Covid-19 pandemic started.

“The US and Europe will be there, and they’ll be there energised and united at both the G-20 and COP26, driving the agenda,” Sullivan said.

Biden’s second trip abroad since becoming president also comes amid continued frustration over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and a cloud over Biden’s own domestic agenda as infrastructure and social spending Bills struggle in Congress.

Biden, a devout Catholic, will meet with Pope Francis amid criticism from US bishops over Biden’s stance on abortion rights.

Sullivan said the two men would discuss climate, migration and income inequality during their meeting.

The president will then hold talks with Italian leaders and a sit-down with French President Emmanuel Macron in an effort to repair relations after a rift over a US security pact with Britain and Australia.

On Saturday and Sunday, Biden will attend G-20 meetings, which will touch on Haiti but focus on core economic themes, such as the global minimum tax.

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“He’ll be laser focused on supply chains and energy prices because he knows that these issues impact working families here in America,” Sullivan said.

The White House did not confirm other one-on-one meetings between Biden and fellow leaders but indicated more were being planned.

Biden will conclude his foreign trip with a stop in Glasgow to press the world to do more in its fight against global warming.

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Biden is expected to emphasise the US goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions 50-52 per cent by 2030 compared with 2005 levels, but continued haggling over the climate pieces in his Build Back Better Bill may undermine his pitch as world leaders question how Washington will make good on its promises.

Sullivan said US allies were sophisticated enough to know the democratic process of getting difficult Bills through Congress.

“Whether there is a deal this week or whether the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort the president is undertaking right now,” Sullivan said.

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