The White House on Tuesday detailed President Joe Biden’s schedule for his second major foreign trip, in which he will attend a series of key meetings and summits with world leaders in Europe.
The President departs Washington on Thursday and will head to Rome for the Group of 20 Summit. His first official stop will be to Vatican City on Friday to meet with Pope Francis.
This will be the fourth time the President and the Pope meet, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday, noting the two have also exchanged letters.
“They will have a chance just to reflect, each of them, on their view of what’s happening in the world, policy issues,” Sullivan said at a White House press briefing.
Biden and the Pope are expected to discuss climate change, migration and income inequality, among other issues, according to Sullivan.
The President will also meet with French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday. It will be their first face-to-face meeting since Biden’s agreement to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines shook the relationship between the two longtime allies. Following the announcement of the US’ new national security partnership with the United Kingdom and Australia, the French government swiftly recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Canberra.
“After a lot of commentary in recent weeks about the state of transatlantic relationship, the United States and Europe head into these two summits aligned and united on the major elements of the global agenda,” Sullivan said, alluding to the recent flare up.
On Saturday and Sunday, Biden will attend G20 events and sessions focused on the main elements of the international economy and international issues. The President may also hold meetings with other world leaders on the margins of the summit to discuss supply chain issues, energy prices and the Iranian nuclear program, Sullivan said.
The President then heads to Glasgow for COP26, a UN climate summit. The President will give a major address on climate as part of the summit. He will also meet with leaders on the margin of that summit to discuss a range of issues, including the Build Back Better World initiative that was announced at the Group of Seven summit earlier this year.
The President is currently under pressure to have the details of his legislative climate plan in place before he heads to the Glasgow summit. Democratic leadership is currently attempting to hammer out the details of a large-scale economic package to expand the nation’s social safety net and are trying to pass it alongside Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill as soon as possible.
At both summits in the coming week, Biden and European partners are expected to discuss coordinating policies on Iran, supply chains and global infrastructure efforts.
“The trip is going to give the President an opportunity to advance some of his highest affirmative priorities on behalf of the American people,” Sullivan said on Tuesday. “You’re going to see first hand in living color what foreign policy for the middle class is all about.”
Biden will “cement progress on the global minimum tax,” Sullivan said. G7 finance ministers agreed in June to back Biden’s sweeping overhaul of global tax system, including a global minimum tax of at least 15% on multinational companies.
The President will also be “laser focused on supply chains and energy prices because he knows that these issues impact working families here in America,” Sullivan said.
“In advancing the Build Back Better World initiative, the B3W initiative, he will show how a high standards climate friendly alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative can help American firms and American workers compete globally on every aspect of infrastructure, from physical to digital to health,” Sullivan said.
The Belt and Road Initiative is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature global infrastructure policy. The Chinese President will not be attending the summit.
Sullivan said: “I would just point out that we see no contradiction between pursuing ambitious and aggressive actions to meet this pivotal moment when it comes to the climate crisis and supporting a sustained and swift economic recovery that delivers security and opportunity for the American people.”
Biden has pledged to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions by 50% to 52% below its 2005 emissions by 2030.
Former President Barack Obama will also be attending COP26, but will not overlap with Biden, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday.