Biden Kicks Off European Tour With Audience With Pope

President Joe Biden kicked off his five day tour of Europe with an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican Friday. He is accompanied by first lady Jill Biden.

The details of the meeting are not known, but National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan earlier told reporters, “The President will have some private time with him, and then there’ll be an expanded delegation meeting as well to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest, from climate to an equitable global economic recovery.”

Today’s meeting was the fourth between Biden and the head of the Catholic church.

Earlier, Biden arrived at Rome’s Fiumicino International Airport for his second major foreign trip since assuming US presidency in January.

Biden has busy engagements for the day, with meetings scheduled with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Biden’s meeting with Macron will be their first face-to-face since a US-Australia deal to provide the latter with nuclear-powered submarines irritated France.

The two leaders will discuss issues facing the U.S.-France alliance — from counterterrorism in the Middle East; to great power competition; to economic, trade, and technology issues, Sullivan said at a briefing ahead of Biden’s departure on Thursday.

Saturday, Biden will join leaders from the world’s leading economies in Rome for their first in-person G20 summit since the pandemic.

Biden will participate in the first session of the G20, which is an economics and health session. He will also meet with the E3 — the leaders of Germany, France, and the UK. They will seek ways to resume negotiations for Iran to return to the JCPOA and the European and American shared concerns about the state of play with Iran’s nuclear program.

Sunday, President Biden will attend two sessions of the G20 — on climate and sustainable development. He will also host a supply chain meeting, where a group of like-minded countries will talk about how to coordinate better to deal with both the short-term supply chain disruptions and challenges and long-term supply chain resilience.

Biden will then head off to Glasgow on Monday for COP26, where he will deliver a major statement on behalf of the United States. He will also host a meeting on Build Back Better World, B3W, with both the G7 and with recipient countries.

“And I think you’ll see the U.S. and Europe front and center at this G20 as we deal with the fact that neither the leaders of Russia nor China will be present in the room in Rome,” Sullivan said at a White House briefing.

“And then, finally, we are trying to work through some remaining climate-related deliverables at the G20, language in the communiqué, as well as ensuring that we’re not just dealing with the current pandemic. But one of the things the G20 is focused on is how we prepare the global community better for future pandemics to prevent, detect, and respond to them going forward,” he told reporters.

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