U.S. President Joe Biden will make his first trip overseas since winning the presidential election last year to attend the Group of Seven summit in the U.K. in June, the White House announced Friday.
Biden will attend the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, set for June 11-13, followed by a visit to Brussels, where he will hold meetings with European Union leadership and attend the June 14 summit of leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The meetings with the United States' closest allies come as Biden has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to a summit in the coming months in a third country, though no date has yet been set.
Most recent American presidents have selected North American neighbors for their first cross-border trips, though former President Donald Trump, whose penchant for unilateral action and open skepticism of the NATO alliance unsettled American allies, made his first overseas stop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For Biden, the first trip is meant to turn the page from Trump's approach to alliances.
"It’s both a practical chance to connect with key allies and partners on shared opportunities and challenges," said Yohannes Abraham, the chief of staff and executive secretary of the National Security Council, in an interview with the Associated Press (AP). "But also it’s an illustration of something that the president has been clear about that the transatlantic alliance is back, that revitalizing it is a key priority of his, and that the transatlantic relationship is a strong foundation on which our collective security and shared prosperity are built.”
Biden, for his part, held "virtual bilateral” meetings with the leaders of Canada and Mexico in February and March, respectively. The June trip will follow after Biden's first in-person bilateral meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga at the White House last week and next month's planned visit by President Moon Jae-in of South Korea.
The announcement comes shortly after the conclusion of Biden’s two-day virtual climate summit, in which he received praise from leaders, particularly those in Europe, for returning the U.S. to the Paris Climate Agreement and reengaging on a host of other issues of shared concern.
The trip will mark the most ambitious travel schedule yet for Biden since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as the president has sought to model safe behavior for the nation.
It comes as the U.S. has stepped up its travel warnings for much of the world due to the virus. Both the U.K. and Belgium are listed by the State Department under level four, the highest, "do not travel” advisory, and are the subject of specific prohibitions preventing most travel to the U.S. by noncitizens.
"There’s going to be components of this trip that probably look and feel different than they did in the past because we are taking the health of all involved very seriously as we plan this," said Abraham.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month lifted quarantine guidance for international travel for those fully vaccinated for COVID-19, but still recommends that vaccinated individuals returning from overseas monitor their symptoms and take a test 3-5 days after returning to the U.S.
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