U.S. President addresses first press conference after assuming office
At his first press conference since assuming office on January 20, U.S. President Joe Biden said he expected to run again for the presidency in 2024.
“The answer is yes. My plan is to run for re-election. That’s my expectation,” Mr. Biden said when asked why he had not already announced a second run. He said Mr. Trump needed to announce his re-election early on in his [Mr. Trump’s] term.
“ My predecessor … oh god I miss him,” Mr. Biden said sarcastically.
When asked again later in the press conference to confirm whether he will run, said he expects to run but caveated his response. “Look, I don’t know where you guys come from man … I’m a great respecter of faith. I’ve never been able to plan three and a half years for certain,” a somewhat exasperated President said.
Mr. Biden also said he expects Vice-President Kamala Harris to be his running mate again. “I would fully expect that to be the case, she’s doing a great job, she’s a great partner,” he said.
When asked if he believed he would be running against former President Donald Trump, Mr. Biden said, “ Oh, come on. I don’t even think about … I have no idea. I have no idea if there’ll be a Republican party. Do you?” he said.
During the press conference, Mr. Biden remarked on and responded to questions regarding migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, the COVID-19 pandemic, the filibuster, voting rights laws, and troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and China.
‘Troops withdrawal by May 1 difficult’
Mr. Biden said it was going to be difficult to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by May 1 — a deadline set by Mr. Trump following talks with the Taliban.
“The answer is that it’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline in terms of tactical reasons,” Mr. Biden said. He however added that he did not expect to have troops there next year. “I can’t picture that being the case,” Mr. Biden said, adding that his administration was consulting allies and that whether it would be in a “safe and orderly” manner if the U.S. leaves. There are between 2,500 and 3,500 U.S. troops in the country as per differing estimates.
Open to diplomacy with North Korea
On the news that North Korea had tested two short range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast — the first such test in nearly a year— Mr. Biden warned of a response but left the door open to diplomacy.
“We are consulting with our allies and partners, and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly,” he said. “I’m also prepared for some form of diplomacy, but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization,” he added.
‘Quad got China’a Attention’
On China, Mr. Biden talked about how he knew Chinese President Xi Jinping from the time they were both Vice-Presidents of their respective countries. He recounted a two-hour conversation he had as President with Mr. Xi and said he told him that he [Mr. Biden] was not looking for confrontation but that he knew there would be “steep, steep competition” and that he would insist that China play by the rules. Mr. Biden also talked about shoring up alliances, including with European allies, with whom he was scheduled to speak with later in the day.
He said he had been clear that it was not “anti-Chinese.”
“And earlier this month…and apparently it got the Chinese attention…that’s not why I did it…I met with our allies…and how we’re going to hold China accountable in the region,” he said. “ Australia, India, Japan, the United States…the so called Quad. Because we have to have democracies working together,” he said.
Adding that he would be inviting an alliance of democracies to come to the U.S. to “ discuss the future.” Mr Biden had said he would organise a “summit of democracies” in his campaign manifesto.
“ We’re going hold China accountable to follow the rules,” Mr. Biden said. “ Whether it relates to the South China or North China Sea or the agreement made on Taiwan or a whole range of other things,” he said.
Mr Biden said that he and Mr Xi understood each other well.
“As long as you and your country continues to so blatantly violate human rights, we’re going to continue in an unrelenting way call to the attention of the world and make it clear what’s happening, and he [ Mr Xi] understood that [sic],” he said, citing China’s actions against its Uighur minority and it’s encroachment on democratic process in Hong Kong.
He said the moment an American president walks away from these issues, as Mr. Trump did, is the moment America beings to lose legitimacy in the world. He said China had an overall goal to become the “leading”, “wealthiest” and “most powerful” country in the world, and while he did not criticize that goal, Mr Biden said it would not happen on his watch.
Mr Biden said the world was in the middle of a fourth industrial revolution and that there was a battle between democracies and autocracies in the 21 Century.
“We’ve got to prove democracy works,” he said.
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