U.S. President Joe Biden meets with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S.
U.S. President Joe Biden mapped out a new era of vigorous competition without a new Cold War despite China's ascendance during his first United Nations address on Tuesday, promising military restraint and a robust fight against climate change.
The United States will help resolve crises from Iran to the Korean Peninsula to Ethiopia, Biden told the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering.
The world faces a "decisive decade," Biden said, one in which leaders must work together to combat a raging coronavirus pandemic, global climate change and cyber threats. He said the United States will double its financial commitment on climate aid and spend $10 billion to fight hunger.
Biden did not ever say the words "China" or "Beijing" but sprinkled implicit references to America's increasingly powerful authoritarian competitor throughout his speech, as the two nations butt heads in the Indo-Pacific and on trade and human rights issues.
He said the United States will compete vigorously, both economically and to push democratic systems and rule of law.
"We'll stand up for our allies and our friends and oppose attempts by stronger countries to dominate weaker ones, whether through changes to territory by force, economic coercion, technical exploitation or disinformation. But we're not seeking - I'll say it again - we are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs," Biden said.
Biden came to the United Nations facing criticism at home and abroad for a chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan that left some Americans and Afghan allies still in that country and struggling to get out.
His vow for allied unity is being tested by a three-way agreement among the United States, Australia and Britain that undermined a French submarine deal and left France feeling stabbed in the back.
"We've ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of relentless war, we're opening a new era of relentless diplomacy," Biden said.
Biden vowed to defend vital U.S. national interests, but said that "the mission must be clear and achievable," and the American military "must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world."
Biden, a Democrat, hoped to present a compelling case that the United States remains a reliable ally to its partners around the world after four years of "America First" policies pursued by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.
Overcoming global challenges "will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity," Biden said.
Biden added that he remains committed to peacefully resolving a dispute with Iran over its nuclear program. He vowed to defend U.S. ally Israel but said a two-state solution with the Palestinians is still needed but a distant goal.
He said the United States wants "sustained diplomacy" to resolve the crisis surrounding North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea has rejected U.S. overtures to engage in talks.
Discussing oppression of racial, ethnic and religious minorities, Biden singled out China's Xinjiang region where rights groups estimate that one million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have been interned in camps.
In response to Biden's reference to Xinjiang, China's mission to the United Nations, told Reuters: "It's completely groundless. We totally reject. The U.S. should pay more attention to its own human rights problems."
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who begins a second five-year term at the helm of the world body on Jan. 1, warned earlier of the dangers of the growing gap between China and the United States, the world's largest economies.
"I fear our world is creeping towards two different sets of economic, trade, financial and technology rules, two divergent approaches in the development of artificial intelligence - and ultimately two different military and geopolitical strategies," Guterres said.
"This is a recipe for trouble. It would be far less predictable than the Cold War," Guterres said.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Will Dunham and Grant McCool
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