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US president to address COVID, climate change, human rights at United Nations

Biden to address UN

U.S. President Joe Biden planned to use his first address before the U.N. General Assembly to reassure other nations of American leadership on the global stage and call on allies to move quickly and co-operatively to address the festering issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and human rights abuses.

Biden, who arrived in New York on Monday evening to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ahead of Tuesday's address, offered a full-throated endorsement of the body's relevance and ambition at a difficult moment in history.

The president, in brief remarks at the start of his meeting with Guterres, returned to his mantra that "America is back"_ a phrase that's become presidential shorthand meant to encapsulate his promise to take a dramatically different tack with allies than predecessor Donald Trump.

"The vision of the United Nations has never been short on ambition, any more than our Constitution," Biden said.

But the president was facing a healthy measure of skepticism from allies during his week of high-level diplomacy. The opening months of his presidency have included a series of difficult moments with friendly nations that were expecting greater co-operation from Biden following four years of Trump's "America first" approach to foreign policy.

Eight months into his presidency, Biden has been out of sync with allies on the chaotic ending to the U.S. war in Afghanistan. He has faced differences over how to go about sharing coronavirus vaccines with the developing world and over pandemic travel restrictions. And there are questions about the best way to respond to military and economic moves by China.

Biden also finds himself in the midst of a fresh diplomatic spat with France, the United States' oldest ally, after announcing plans _ along with Britain _ to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines. The move is expected to give Australia improved capabilities to patrol the Pacific amid growing concern about the Chinese military's increasingly aggressive tactics, but it upended a French defense contract worth at least $66 billion to sell diesel-powered submarines to Australia.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Monday there was a "crisis of trust" with the U.S. as a result of the episode.



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