The president of the United States, Joe Biden, will make his debut this Tuesday at the UN General Assembly, the most important diplomatic meeting of the year, in a climate rarefied by the hasty withdrawal of his troops from Afghanistan and the tension that the announcement of a Defensive alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia has caused in many foreign ministries and especially in France, the most affected by the entente. In the first blended meeting of the organization since the pandemic, Biden will return the United States as a prodigal son to the multilateral forum that Donald Trump ignored, but both crises, and especially the second, threaten to overshadow the call and compromise months of diplomatic efforts.
Between calls for containment by the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, and the angry reaction from Paris, for the damage that the tripartite security pact has done to his defense industry, Biden will try to reassure a main ally like Emmanuel Macron, in parallel to London’s allegedly conciliatory efforts. In fact, the president said today that he was “impatient” to talk by phone with his French counterpart, an interview requested by Washington and that according to the White House could take place “in the next few days.” Paris needs “explanations and clarifications” before picking up the phone, replied the head of diplomacy, Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The wake of the conflict in Afghanistan will define Biden’s speech before the plenary, which he will try to convince that the end of the military intervention in the Central Asian country marks the beginning of a new chapter of “intensive diplomacy”, as defined by the White House , consistent with its determined commitment to multilateralism. But even if Afghanistan and the tripartite pact monopolize all the spotlight, a threat of greater consequences hangs in the air: a new cold war in which China plays the role that the Soviet Union once played.
Curbing China’s hegemonic and expansionist ambition is the ultimate goal of the security pact announced last week by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – known as Aukus, after the acronym of the English initials of the three countries – to the detriment of France. and its colossal diplomatic and commercial interests. A previous commission from Australia to renew its fleet of submarines, for an amount of 60,000 million dollars and that the pact of the angloesfera it has left in suspense, it has angered the Elysee. The damage is not only economic, but also of image, that aspect that diplomacy cares so much about, since the agreement was negotiated with its back to Paris, which on Friday called its ambassadors in Washington and Canberra for consultations, and, by extension, to the European Union. The EU foreign ministers were scheduled to speak this Monday in New York on the margins of the multilateral forum about what is already known as the “nuclear submarine crisis”, in reference to the new fleet promised by Washington and London to Australia .
Beyond good words, in his telephone conversation with Macron, Biden does not plan to offer any compensation to France for the cancellation of the agreement, let alone backtracking on what was announced. “What the president will do in that conversation is to reaffirm our commitment to working with one of our oldest and closest partners on a series of challenges facing the global community,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday. A perfect example of wooden tongue, the finest expression of diplomacy. With regard to a possible cold war, Biden does not intend to start any with any country, the spokeswoman stressed. “Our relationship with China is not one of conflict, but one of competition.”
But, aware that the important thing should not distract from the urgent – or the noisy, the two characteristics of the dust raised by the tripartite pact -, the UN Secretary General has sent a meridian message, halfway between the recommendation and the warning, to Washington and Beijing, urging them to rebuild their “completely dysfunctional” relationship before the tension between the two countries drags the rest of the planet into a global conflict.
As host of the Assembly, Guterres has suggested that the two main world powers should collaborate in the fight against climate change and negotiate more openly on trade and technology issues, even if discrepancies of opinion persist on issues such as human rights. , security on the Net or sovereignty of the South China Sea, whose waters Beijing claims as its own. But, “unfortunately, today there is only confrontation” between the two countries, said the UN Secretary General in an interview with the AP agency on the occasion of the 76th Assembly. The debate will be marked by two global challenges, the pandemic and the fight against climate change, plus the echo of the human crisis unleashed in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of foreign forces.
The intervention by France, with a message from Macron recorded on video, was scheduled to take place this Tuesday, as was that of the United States, according to the provisional agenda advanced last week by the UN. But the Elysium’s anger is of such caliber that the president could delegate to his foreign minister and postpone his intervention until the last day of the Assembly, on Monday, the 27th, according to the newspaper today. The New York Times. The official 24-hour schedule that Biden will spend in New York leaves no room for doubt about his priorities, and France does not appear to be one of them. A first bilateral meeting with Guterres, on Monday afternoon, and his speech to the plenary, mid-morning on Tuesday, will be followed by a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, before returning to the White House for an interview. with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. More wood for the fire of the suspicions and grievances of Paris.
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