Joe Biden says international support for him is strong despite national struggles

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“They listened to me. Everyone looked for me. They wanted to know what our point of view was and we helped direct what happened here,” Biden said of other world leaders on Sunday. evening. “We got a lot of support here.… The United States of America is the most critical part of this whole program.”

The president also dismissed concerns that poll numbers posed a significant problem with his administration’s priorities, saying: “Look at all the other presidents. The same has happened. But that’s not why I introduced myself. ”

It was Biden’s first solo press conference since the one he held in mid-June in Geneva, Switzerland, following a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During the extensive question-and-answer session, which lasted less than half an hour, Biden asserted that “there is really no substitute for face-to-face discussions and negotiations between leaders to establish a understanding and cooperation “.

The president said he “found it disappointing” that the leaders of major polluters like China and Russia did not show up at international summits this week.

Biden said it would be up to the nations to keep their promises.

“The proof of the pudding will be eating,” he said. “I think you will see that we have made significant progress and that there is still a lot to do, but it will force us to continue to focus on what China is not doing, what Russia is not doing. , which Saudi Arabia is not doing. “

On Iran, Biden told reporters the United States “continues to suffer” as a result of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
The president also spoke of his “personal” relationship with Pope Francis, whom he visited on Friday in the Vatican.

Biden praised Francis as “someone who brought great comfort to my family when my son passed away,” but he did not respond directly to a question about a proposal that attempted to allow individual American bishops to decline. communion with politicians, like the president, who support the right to abortion.

The president’s engagements with journalists have been somewhat limited throughout this first leg of his journey through Europe.

While the American press was allowed to ask questions in the room with Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of their bilateral meeting in Rome, the press was totally excluded from the president’s meeting with Pope Francis. Images of the meeting from within the walls of the papal state were broadcast by Vatican television.

The president will then travel to the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday.

Global supply chain efforts

Earlier Sunday, Biden signed an executive order to streamline storage efforts as he searches for solutions to supply chain bottlenecks, as part of a number of efforts on his final day at Rome for the Group of 20 summit.

The order delegates to the Pentagon the power to release materials from the national defense stockpile, which the White House says would allow for a faster response to supply shortages.

On Sunday, Biden also announced increased funding to promote the resilience of the international supply chain, which he said would help US and international partners “reduce port congestion by cutting red tape.” And he’s asking his Secretaries of State and Commerce to convene a summit focused on the issue next year.

At an event he hosted on Global Supply Chain Resilience at the G20 in Rome, Biden also called on countries to step up efforts to address supply issues, especially related to security. national.

He told the group of world leaders at the event: “I urge all of you (…) to consider strengthening your stocks essential for national security in your countries. But like so many of our challenges today, this is not a problem one of our nations can solve by unilateral actions. Coordination is key. ”

Biden said the real way to resolve supply bottlenecks would be to end the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that this is “the ultimate key to unlocking disruption.”

Shortages of goods have become a political responsibility for Biden and are contributing to inflation. He called the special G20 session to address the topic, where officials say he will call on each country to identify ways to remove blockages.

Earlier this month, the International Monetary Fund lowered its growth forecast for the United States for 2021 by one percentage point, the highest for any G7 economy, due to supply chain disruptions and the weakening of consumption. And as supply chain disruptions drive up prices for consumers and slow economic recovery, Moody’s Analytics has warned that disruptions “will get worse before they get better.”

Moody’s highlighted the differences in the way countries are battling Covid-19, with China targeting zero cases while the United States is “more willing to live with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.” The company also cited the lack of a “concerted global effort to keep the global logistics and transportation network running smoothly”.

Meeting with Erdoğan

Earlier on Sunday, Biden voiced concerns over Turkey’s possession of a Russian missile system and human rights concerns during a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said the Minister. White House, in the midst of latent tensions between the two nations.

The two leaders met for around 55 minutes on the sidelines of the final day of the G20 summit, which is taking place this year in Rome.

Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 missile system was fiercely opposed by NATO and Washington, and marked a deepening of relations between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden addressed these concerns directly with Erdoğan, according to a reading from the White House meeting, while stressing “his desire to maintain constructive relations, expand areas of cooperation and effectively manage our disagreements.”

A senior administration official told reporters after the meeting: “The president also raised human rights issues, saying it is a set of issues – democracy, rule of law. , human rights – which are important to him. And that these are questions that he and his administration will continue to raise. “

The two leaders also discussed regional issues, including the political process in Syria, the provision of humanitarian aid to Afghans, the elections in Libya, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and diplomatic efforts in the South Caucasus, the said. White House.

Biden will also hold his first solo press conference in months on Sunday.

Sunday morning’s meeting with Erdoğan was not previously on Biden’s public agenda and was relayed to reporters on Saturday evening by a senior administration official. The meeting came about a week after Erdoğan ordered 10 ambassadors – including those from the United States, France and Germany – to be declared “persona non grata” after issuing a joint statement calling for the release of imprisoned Turkish businessman and philanthropist. Osman Kavala.

Ahead of the meeting, Biden said he plans to have a “good conversation” with the Turkish president while standing by his side. Biden did not respond to reporters’ questions about whether he planned to raise human rights issues or whether he thought Turkey was too close to Russia.

Ahead of the meeting, an administration official told reporters in Rome: “Certainly the president will signal that we have to find a way to avoid crises like this in the future, and hasty action will not benefit. to the US-Turkish partnership and Alliance. ”The official added that the two leaders should discuss Libya and their defense relations.

Biden and Erdoğan last met face-to-face in June at NATO headquarters in Brussels, a meeting Biden called “positive and productive.” It was a closely watched meeting after Biden in April became the first US president in decades to recognize the slaughter of Armenians under the Ottoman Empire as genocide – a move that risked a potential rift with Turkey but signaled engagement. for global human rights.

More Sunday Events

Biden skipped two of the more informal events held for G20 leaders at this weekend’s summit in Rome.

The president did not attend a performance on Saturday night at the 1,700-year-old Baths of Diocletian, where most other leaders were treated to a performance of Puccini under tall stone arches. Instead, the President attended Mass at St. Patrick’s Church with the First Lady.

On Sunday morning, many G20 leaders gathered at the Trevi Fountain and threw coins over their shoulders into the water. Biden skipped the event, as he was about to meet Erdoğan, who was also not present.

In addition to the bilateral meeting with Erdoğan, the president met with Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday afternoon, where the two leaders “reaffirmed the importance of the US-Singapore strategic partnership and discussed possibilities to build on the momentum. generated by the visit of Vice President Harris. in Singapore in August, “according to the White House.

Biden “expressed his desire to deepen cooperation with Singapore in the pursuit of our common interests and a free and open Indo-Pacific, including upholding the freedom of the seas and advancing the resilience of the chain. supply, “according to the White House statement.

Biden also attended two G20 sessions on climate and other sustainable developments, according to the administration official.

CNN’s Matt Egan, DJ Judd and Allie Malloy contributed to this report.


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