On day two of the G-7 summit in Cornwall, England, on Saturday, the friendliness between President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron was on full show, with the two leaders sitting down for a one-on-one beachfront bilateral chat and Macron affirming that US Is ‘Definitely’ Back.
The president echoed Macron’s sentiments, stating, “We, the United States, are returning, as I’ve previously stated. The United States has resurfaced.”
Karen Travers of ABC News followed up with Biden later, asking, “Have you persuaded allies that America is back?”
Biden posed the question to Macron, who responded with a resounding “Yes, absolutely.”
In direct contrast to former President Donald Trump’s threats to abandon NATO and criticism of European countries’ defense expenditures in 2018, Biden reaffirmed the US’s commitment to the alliance, saying he supports and cares “very passionately” about its cohesiveness.
He added, “The European Union is an enormously powerful and dynamic institution that has a lot to do with Western Europe’s capacity to not only handle its economic challenges but also give the backbone and support for NATO.”
Following years of Trump alienating some of America’s closest friends, Macron said, “It’s terrific to have the United States president part of the club and extremely prepared to collaborate.”
On Saturday, though, Macron praised Biden for a casual meeting the day before, which he posted a video of, and stated that the US and France must work together to combat the COVID-19 epidemic and climate change.
“We’re on the same page,” Biden said of their discussions in the United States.
While the G-7 events on Friday were marked by warm embraces and elbow bumps, a senior administration official described some tension between two sets of leaders during the first G-7 session on Saturday morning, with Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking out against China, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi advocated for a more moderate approach.
Tensions are also expected to be high at Biden’s first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which will take place in Geneva on Wednesday.
According to the White House, the two will meet in two sessions and Biden will not conduct a joint news conference with Putin afterward.
“We expect this meeting to be candid and direct, and a solo press conference is an appropriate format for clearly communicating with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting — both in terms of areas where we may agree and in terms of areas where we have significant concerns,” a White House official said Saturday.
Putin claimed the US-Russia relationship is at its lowest point in decades in an interview with NBC News on Friday, describing Biden as “radically different” from his predecessor.
“I believe that Mr. Trump, the former president of the United States, is an outstanding and talented guy; otherwise, he would not have been elected president of the United States,” he stated. “Biden is a self-made man. He’s spent almost his whole adult life in politics… That’s a different sort of person, and I sincerely hope that, while there may be some benefits and drawbacks, there will be no impulsive moves on behalf of the current US president.”
When asked what his message to Putin will be on Friday, Biden simply said, “I’ll tell you once I give it.”
The president has already expressed his feelings on Putin bluntly, telling ABC News in March that he considers him a “killer” and that he told him directly in 2011, “I don’t think you have a soul.”
Recent cyber assaults on US firms that have impacted millions of Americans, as well as the poisoning and jail of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, are two of the most significant problems heading into the summit.
On ABC News’ “Good Morning America,” she stated, “We’re not anticipating a great consequence from this.”