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With the national agenda in the home stretch, Biden heads to Europe

President Joe Biden will travel to Europe on Thursday for a series of meetings with world leaders focused on the global economy and climate change, as well as an official visit to Pope Francis, as the president seeks to consolidate some of his priorities policies both at home and abroad.


What would you like to know

  • President Joe Biden will visit Europe on Thursday at a crucial time for his two key national economic priorities, the bipartisan $ 1 trillion infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better social spending measure
  • The president hopes to travel to Europe later this week with at least a glimpse of a deal in hand when he meets with world leaders, both to illustrate the United States’ concrete commitment to the climate and to raise its domestic political values ​​on the world stage.
  • Biden will stop in Rome for the G20 summit, a gathering of the world’s major economies, before traveling to Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
  • President and First Lady Jill Biden will visit Vatican City on Friday, both for a larger formal meeting with Pope Francis and time for the President and Pope to meet face-to-face

The trip is Biden’s second to the continent as president. He will stop first in Rome for the G20 summit, a gathering of the world’s major economies, before traveling to Glasgow, Scotland, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In addition to meeting the Pope, he is also due to hold a bilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, who last month recalled his country’s ambassadors to the United States after the Biden administration announced a submarine deal with Australia which was seen as an unexpected snub for France.

And as Biden prepares to talk about his economic and climate goals with world leaders, his national goals on the same issues are closer than ever to the finish line, as Democratic lawmakers and the White House craft the latest. details of their vast social and climate agenda. spending package.

President Biden hopes to travel to Europe on Thursday with at least a glimpse of a deal in hand when he meets with world leaders, both to illustrate the United States’ concrete commitment to the climate and to elevate its domestic political values ​​on the world stage.

“You are going to see firsthand, in vivid color, what foreign policy is for the middle class,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday during the trip’s presentation.

Friday: Meeting with the Pope, Italian leaders, French President Macron

Following their arrival in Rome on Thursday, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to the Vatican on Friday, both for a larger formal meeting with Pope Francis and time for the President and Pope to converse in the lead -headed.

This will be the fourth time the president has met the Pope and “they have exchanged letters,” NSA Sullivan said Tuesday. They are expected to discuss issues such as “the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis and caring for the poor,” according to the White House.

FILE – In this September 24, 2015 file photo, Vice President Joe Biden shakes hands with Pope Francis on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Pope’s speech at a joint congressional meeting, making history the first pontiff to do so. Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio is at right. Biden is due to meet Pope Francis this next Friday at the Vatican. (AP Photo / Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

President Biden will then meet with his Italian counterparts, including President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Finally on Friday, he will meet French President Macron, as promised in September after the diplomatic row that unfolded after the United States struck a nuclear submarine deal with Australia, usurping a submarine contract. long-time sailor between France and Australia.

Biden and Macron first spoke by phone after the announcement, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a diplomatic trip to Paris earlier this month to help work things out.

FILE – In this file photo from Friday 11 June 2021, from left to right, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen walk together at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, England. (Leon Neal / Pool Photo via AP, File)

Saturday and Sunday: G20 summit

This weekend, President Biden will attend the annual summit of the G20 countries, which represent the world’s largest economies and together account for 80% of the world’s gross domestic product.

Outside of formal sessions on the international economy, President Biden will engage with leaders “on the sidelines” as usual, National Security Advisor Sullivan said on Tuesday.

It will focus on at least three key topics, Sullivan stressed: supply chain issues and resilience, energy prices as the cost of gas remains high, and the status of Iran’s nuclear program.

Several rounds of talks this year between US and Iranian officials in Vienna were not enough to restore the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.

“Obviously, we are closely monitoring the progress of Iran’s nuclear program,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “We had a cover on this program. Now we don’t do it because we don’t have this deal. Our first and highest priority is therefore to come back to the table. “

Earlier this week, the The US envoy to Iran said that negotiations were in a “critical phase” to determine whether the nuclear deal could be relaunched or not.

And more broadly, the United States hopes to emerge from the summit with a concrete result – a final endorsement by the G20 countries for increase the global minimum tax on large corporations at 15%, after years of discussions on the issue that were amplified when President Biden took office.

The Chinese and Russian leaders will not be attending the G20 meeting, however, which will make productive conversations with these countries “more difficult,” Sullivan admitted, although he said the United States still plans to do so. engage with representatives of both countries.

Monday and Tuesday: United Nations Climate Change Conference

President Biden’s final week in Europe will focus on climate, a central part of his national “build back better” agenda as its final elements are shaped in Washington.

Biden is expected to deliver a major speech at the conference, in which he will likely highlight US commitments to tackle climate change and also describe those efforts as creating jobs. The president has so far set a goal of halving carbon emissions by 2030 to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, with a focus on economic benefits.

“When I think of climate, I think of jobs. Well-paying jobs, union jobs, ”Biden said on a trip to Hartford, Connecticut, to promote his program earlier this month.

Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly in September, President Biden also doubled the United States’ financial commitment in international climate finance to $ 11.4 billion per year.

But it’s unclear what concrete achievements the president will have to take with him to Europe this week, as the final climate framework for the Democrats’ bill is still unclear.

On the one hand, the Clean Energy Performance Program – which prompts utility companies to switch to clean energy – is unlikely to be included as Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., opposes it. Democrats have tried to replace it with something else.

Protesters gather to call on the Biden administration to do more to fight climate change and ban fossil fuels outside the White House in Washington on Tuesday, October 12, 2021 (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky)

Sullivan said Tuesday that the president “intends to meet” his climate commitments so far, regardless of the spending bill’s status.

“Whether there is an agreement this week or the negotiations continue, there will be a lot of energy and enthusiasm for the effort,” he said.

Biden’s agenda hangs in the balance

As late as Monday, President Biden said he hoped to strike a deal when he left the country this week, and Democrats had set a goal of concluding negotiations by October 31, before Biden did not travel to Glasgow.

But White House officials moved away from that deadline on Tuesday, instead saying progress in recent weeks would be sufficient proof of climate action and other political goals.

“I think what the allies are watching is the effort President Biden has undertaken to design and now negotiate a practical package of ambitious and effective investments,” Sullivan said Tuesday.

“You have a sophisticated set of world leaders who understand politics in their own country and understand American democracy,” he added. “I don’t think world leaders will see this as a binary problem. It’s finish? Is not it done? They will say: is President Biden on track to keep his promises? He’s going to deliver and we somehow think he’s going to be on the right track to deliver.

Top Democrats were optimistic on Tuesday, saying the Build Back Better plan was in its home stretch.

“I believe a final deal is within reach,” Majority Leader Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said after the Democratic senators’ political lunch.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York City speaks to reporters following a meeting on Democratic strategy on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, October 26, 2021 (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

The president also welcomed several House Democrats to the White House on Tuesday afternoon. It’s one of the few potential meetings on his agenda this week, as his team intentionally cut back their schedule until he left on Thursday.

The goal, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki, is to get as close to a deal as possible by then.

“This is why we are pushing so hard,” she told reporters in the briefing room.


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