Sullivan says G20 leaders will ‘understand’ domestic politics if Biden agenda has not


White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said foreign leaders participating in the G20 summit later this week will “understand” if President Biden has not reached a deal with Congress on his agenda before his trip overseas, saying international partners are “excited” to see the United States taking steps to make investments to combat climate change, enhance infrastructure and more. 

The president is set to travel to Rome on Thursday, where he will first meet with Pope Francis on Oct. 29 in Vatican City, followed by a bilateral program with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. 

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The president is then expected to meet with French President Emanuel Macron on Friday, before participating in the G20 Leaders’ Summit.

The meeting with Macron comes after the AUKUS agreement, announced last month, which is set to focus on developing Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine capabilities – an effort France was working to undertake with Australia. Following the announcement of AUKUS, France recalled its ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia.

During a call earlier last month between the two leaders, Macron “decided that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week,” and that the ambassador would “start intensive work with senior U.S. officials.”

President Joe Biden participates virtually in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit from the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

President Joe Biden participates virtually in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit from the White House complex in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sullivan previewed Biden’s role in the G20, saying he will participate in “several sessions covering the main elements of the international economy and international affairs.” Sullivan said Biden would also “have the opportunity on the margins to engage with key leaders on a range of issues of importance to the American people, including supply chain, resilience, energy prices, the Iranian nuclear program and more.”

When asked if Biden’s credibility would be weakened should he not reach an agreement with Congress to pass his Build Back Better agenda, Sullivan said it would not affect Biden’s ability to deliver. 

“I think you’ve got a sophisticated set of world leaders who understand politics in their own country, and understand American democracy, and recognize that working through a complex, far-reaching negotiation on some of the largest investments in modern memory in the United States, that that takes time,” Sullivan told reporters. “So, I don’t think that world leaders will look at this as a binary issue.” 

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Sullivan added that, regardless, Biden is “on track to deliver” what he has expressed he hopes to deliver. 

“We believe, one way or the other, he will be on track to do that,” Sullivan said. 

Following his participation in the G20, Biden will travel to Glasgow, Scotland, to participate in the World Leader Summit on Nov. 1 and 2, at the start of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan calls on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sullivan said the president will give “a major address on climate” as part of that program, and will “have the opportunity” to engage with foreign leaders on his “Build Back Better World” initiative. 

Sullivan said the United States and the European Union, ahead of these summits, are “aligned and united on the major elements of the global agenda.” 

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“In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen the U.S. and the EU come together for joint-action on COVID-19; we’ve seen the U.S. and EU launch a global methane pledge and other key climate initiatives; the U.S. and EU have launched a Trade and Technology Council to set the rules and standards for economics and technology in the 21st century,” Sullivan said. “And President Biden and key European partners will sit down at these two summits to coordinate policies on Iran, on supply chains, on global infrastructure efforts and so much else.” 

Sullivan also said Tuesday that neither China nor Russia will attend the summits in person at the leader level – something, he said, was due to COVID-19. 

“The U.S. and Europe will be there, and they’ll be energized and united at both the G20 and COP26, driving the agenda, shaping the agenda, as it relates to these significant international issues,” Sullivan said, noting that Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who have spoken over the phone twice since Biden took office in January, could have a virtual summit by the end of the year. 

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Returning to the president’s agenda in the U.S., Sullivan said the administration sees “no contradiction between pursuing an ambitious and aggressive action 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.” 

At this point, Democrats are attempting to bridge differences between moderate and progressive lawmakers and secure an agreement on Biden’s spending bill ahead of an Oct. 31 deadline. Moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters he hasn’t budged from his call for a bill no larger than $1.5 trillion, while progressive support a larger package of as much as $2.2 trillion.



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