Baie de Carbis (United Kingdom) (AFP)
“Everyone in the water! President Joe Biden joked with fellow G7 leaders in a family photo on the beach, pointing to a confident transformation in the tone of antagonist Donald Trump.
Where Trump was alienating and exasperating, undermining the Western alliance at every turn, Biden said, “America is back!” After starting his first tour abroad as president in Britain.
The U.S. servicemen stood at attention out of respect for their commander-in-chief as Biden addressed them on Wednesday at an airbase in eastern England.
“Please feel free,” he said, urging them to relax. “I always forget that I am president. ”
It was hard to imagine such an avuncular line ever coming from Trump, and the G7 leaders were equally at home in the company of the 78-year-old former senator and vice president.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, one of the few foreign leaders hailed by Trump, called Biden a “big breath of fresh air”.
French President Emmanuel Macron, after disputing a years-long battle of wills with Trump, eagerly grabbed Biden by the arm for a good-humored conversation after Friday’s G7 photo in Carbis Bay, southwest England.
As Britain hosts the elite club’s first in-person summit in nearly two years, Biden is back in his element after racking up decades of foreign policy experience: the happy hand on the world stage.
The oldest president to date, he has occasionally stumbled over his words during the early stages of a grueling eight-day tour that will culminate in confrontational talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Switzerland.
# photo1 But despite being ridiculed by Trump as “Sleepy Joe,” Biden has not been lacking in energy during his public appearances at the G7.
“He’s been preparing for 50 years,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
“He has known a number of these leaders for decades … and there is no such thing as face to face engagement in diplomacy,” she said, as Biden locks Western leaders into a harsher line on China and Russia.
– Rebuilding the America brand –
He is on solid foundations at the G7. The leaders of Canada, France and Germany have all suffered from Trump’s licks, and the return to traditional diplomatic modes is palpable.
This is in stark contrast to Trump’s first presidential trip to Europe, in May 2017, for a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 in Sicily. At one point, he bluntly pushed away the leader of Montenegro in a family photo.
But as the background music has become more harmonious, Biden’s tour will be judged on results, according to Stephen Pomper, acting chief of policy at the International Crisis Group.
# photo2 ″ Of course, the G7 crowd will prefer “America is Back” and ”democracy delivers“ to Trump’s tirades and clashes, ”he said.
“The big question is whether this meeting can help generate the kind of energy, vision and unity that Washington wants to project given the competitive challenges it currently faces. “
Among these challenges, Putin faces next Wednesday’s lakeside summit in Geneva, and European members of the G7 are not so keen on taking on Russia or China.
But for now, Biden can boast of having restored some of America’s popularity abroad after plunging to historic lows during the Trump years.
According to a survey conducted in 16 countries by the Pew Research Center, 62% of people now have a “favorable image” of the world’s leading power, compared to only 34% in 2020.
Biden’s swift moves to bring the United States back into the World Health Organization and the Paris climate agreement received strong approval from respondents in Canada, Europe and the Asia-Pacific.
© 2021 AFP