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Biden Says Defense, State Will Work Together to Rebuild U.S. Foreign Policy

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The Defense Department and the State Department will work closely and in tandem to better represent to the world the power of American values and ideals, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said today during a speech at the State Department.

The president called the new direction a "course correction" to American foreign policy saying it will "better unite our democratic values with our diplomatic leadership."

A man stands at a lectern with microphones and the Seal of the President of the United States affixed to the lectern. Four flags are in the background.
Presidential Remarks
President Joe Biden delivers remarks to State Department employees in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2021.
Photo By: Freddie Everett, Department of State
VIRIN: 210204-S-ZZ999-102

"America is back," Biden said in a short address to State Department employees. "Diplomacy is back. You are the center of all I intend to do. You are the heart of it. We are going to rebuild our alliances. We are going to re-engage the world and take on the enormous challenge we face dealing with the pandemic, dealing with global warming and again standing up for democracy and human rights around the world."

There is a lot to do in foreign policy, the president said. The United States will counter the "growing ambitions of China to rival the United States, and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy," he said. "We must meet the new moment (of) accelerating global … challenges, from the pandemic to the climate crisis to nuclear proliferation."

He said these are "challenges that will only be solved by nations working together, and in common. We can't do it alone."

Diplomacy is at the heart of this. American diplomacy must be rooted in America's most cherished democratic values, defending freedom, championing opportunity, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity.

There are specifics. The president has tasked Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III to conduct a Global Posture Review of U.S. forces "so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities," Biden said. "It will be coordinated across all elements of our national security, with Secretary Austin and Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken working in close cooperation. And while this review is taking place, we'll be stopping any planned troop withdrawals from Germany."

A man stands on a stage at a lectern with microphones with two people socially distanced on either side of him. Four flags are in the background and the audience is socially distanced.
Presidential Pose
President Joseph R. Biden Jr., with Vice President Kamala K. Harris (right) and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, calls for a “course correction” to American foreign policy in remarks delivered to State Department employees in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2021.
Photo By: Freddie Everett, Department of State
VIRIN: 210204-S-ZZ999-101

Biden also used the speech at the State Department to condemn the coup in Burma, and to say that he is halting sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that could be used in the war in Yemen. The president did say the United States would still work to defend the nations from attacks by Iranian proxies.

The world works best when America is engaged, the president said. "We're a country that does big things, and American diplomacy makes it happen," he said. "Our administration is ready to take up the mantle and lead once again."

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