President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 1, 2021.

President Joe Biden steps off Air Force One upon arrival at Tulsa International Airport in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 1, 2021. Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Unity Will Be ‘Key Message’ in Biden’s First International Trip

Aides say COVID, China, and climate change will be discussed, but a top message is reaffirming America’s close partnership with allies.

President Joe Biden is seeking to show the world that America is still committed to its allies on his first international trip next week, according to members of the president’s National Security Council. 

“I think a key message is going to be that they are unified, and they’re unified around a set of shared values and a very strong belief that our democratic way of life delivers results and we can meet the world’s biggest challenges,” Daleep Singh, the deputy national security advisor, said at an event Friday hosted by the Center for New American Security. 

The message of unity and prioritization of partnerships is in contrast to his predecessor, President Donald Trump, who called NATO “obsolete” and pressured other member countries to spend more on defense.

Biden will begin more than a week of foreign-policy engagements next Thursday with a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He’ll then attend the G-7 summit in the United Kingdom and meet on Sunday with Queen Elizabeth.

The president will travel to Brussels next for the NATO summit on Monday, including a bilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Biden will also participate in the U.S.-EU summit on Tuesday. 

He’ll close out the trip in Geneva with the much-anticipated summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Some overarching themes that will dominate the trip are “the three C’s”: COVID, climate and China, said Amanda Sloat, the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe, at the CNAS event.

Sloat predicted that the joint statement made to press at the end of the NATO summit will note a lot of progress on efforts ranging from cybersecurity to Russia to climate, all priorities that the president will also discuss with NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg when the latter visits the White House on Monday. 

“If I told you everything we were pushing and working on now, then we wouldn’t have anything interesting to announce next week,” Sloat said. “I think we’re going to have a very robust communique that is coming out of this summit.” 

For the Putin meeting, Biden will seek common ground with Moscow where it’s in America’s best interest, said Eric Green, the senior Russia director and central Asia on the National Security Council. Green said the president would bring up strategic stability and nuclear weapons, while also condemning Moscow for holding American citizens captive, restricting diplomacy, and invading parts of Ukraine. 

“Our goal is to restore predictability and stability in the relationship. We believe there's no substitute for leader-to-leader engagement, particularly in an engagement that is as complex as this,” he said.