According to a senior administration official, President Joe Biden plans to deliver his most substantive foreign policy remarks since becoming president on Monday, marking his opening effort to pivot away from his predecessor’s “America First” approach to the globe.
Biden’s speech will draw on the theme of one of his key campaign promises, “restoring America’s place in the world,” which will coincide with his first trip to a Cabinet department. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday he expects to visit the State Department to speak with newly-installed Secretary Antony Blinken.
Instead of the Pentagon or CIA, making his first stop there is meant to underscore Biden’s renewed emphasis on restoring American alliances and using diplomacy as an overseas weapon, an official said.
While the details of the new strategy on China, Iran, North Korea, Russia or other US adversaries are not expected to be outlined in his address, he will attempt to frame his foreign policy around building alliances and returning to multilateralism after the Trump administration, which has been marked by unilateral behaviour and contempt for conventional diplomacy.
Since taking office, Biden has spoken by phone to nearly half a dozen international colleagues but has been focused largely on the coronavirus pandemic and domestic executive actions in public. He rejoined the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the World Health Organisation, signalling his intention to renew US commitments abroad.
“Restoring America’s place in the world” as a theme for February was described in a draught calendar of the administration’s opening days obtained by CNN.
Biden campaigned on a promise to restore American alliances that under former President Donald Trump had been strained. Last week, he made phone calls to the representatives of Canada, Mexico, the UK, France, Germany and Japan, all sought to reinforce his pledge to strengthen ties to traditional US allies.
In a call described by officials as business-like yet straightforward, he spoke with one opponent—President Vladimir Putin of Russia. Biden discussed a number of concerns, including cybersecurity and the poisoning of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the White House said.
Last week, Blinken, who was sworn in, spoke out on Sunday against “harsh tactics” being used across Russia against pro-Navalny demonstrations.
He wrote, “We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights,”
The State Department that Biden will
make a visit to on Monday suffered a drastic decline in morale under Trump, who liked to refer to the agency as the “Deep State Department” and consistently eyed its career professionals with skepticism.
In his first remarks to staff last week, Blinken addressed the mood, and said he was ushering in a new age.
“I know that the State Department I’m walking into today is not the same one I left four years ago,” referring to his position as Deputy Secretary of State. “A lot has changed. The world has changed. The Department has changed.”
Biden is anticipated to thank employees of the State Department when he visits the building on Monday.