President Joe Biden kicked off a week-long trip to Egypt and Asia today to participate in multiple high-profile conferences and grapple with some of the United States thorniest foreign policy issues.
Biden left for the international talks after the midterm election this week, boosted by a better-than-expected showing by Democrats in the elections.
Biden will hop to three summits. First, he begins at the international climate summit in Egypt on Nov. 11 COP 27 and then will head to the ASEAN meeting and the East Asia Summit in Cambodia on Nov. 12 and 13, before concluding the trip at the annual gathering of the G20, or Group of 20 industrialized nations, in Indonesia from Nov. 14-16.
At the G20, Biden will hold his first face-to-face meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, where he hopes to explore Xi’s “red lines”, talk to allies about punishing Russia for its Ukraine invasion, and discuss containing North Korea after a barrage of missile tests.
Biden said he wants to lay out “what each of our red lines are,” understand what Xi believes to be in the national interest of China, discuss U.S. interests and “determine whether or not they conflict with one another.”
Another big topic for the G20 will be Russia and its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Biden plans to be “unapologetic” in his defense of Ukraine, and address the war’s impact on energy and food security at the G20 meeting.
Discussion of Biden’s agenda at G20 came as Russian president Vladimir Putin announced he would not be attending the gathering of leaders from the G20 nations in Bali next week.
Putin’s announcement ends weeks of speculation about a possible confrontation with the U.S. president. Biden and Putin have only met once during Biden’s presidency, at a summit in Geneva in the summer of 2021.
As Russia subsequently threatened to invade Ukraine, the two men spoke several times – the last of which was in February, just days before the war began. Russia’s president will be represented by his veteran foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, officials said.
Experts say it is likely that Putin did not appreciate the prospect of his two chief allies in the region, – the Chinese president and the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi – urging him to negotiate a peace that might be disadvantageous to him.