UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Iran Press TV

Biden touches on Saudi war, Russia, China among other issues in his 1st foreign policy speech

Iran Press TV

Thursday, 04 February 2021 9:51 PM

US President Joe Biden delivered a speech during his first visit to the State Department on Thursday, touching upon a range of issues pertaining to Saudi Arabia, Russia and China among others.

In a reversal of the Donald Trump administration's foreign policy, Biden said the US was ending its support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen but added Washington will continue to help Riyadh defend its sovereignty and territory.

"This war has to end," he said. "To underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales."

Saudi Arabia, accompanied by its allies including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has been leading a war against Yemen since March 2015 with the aim of bringing the former pro-Riyadh government back to power.

The war has also been accompanied by an all-out siege of the impoverished country. It has killed tens of thousands of Yemenis and turned Yemen into the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

The Biden administration has already said the US suspended weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE which were authorized by former President Trump.

Biden, who took office on January 20, had pledged in his campaign to reassess ties with the Saudi kingdom.

Days of US 'rolling over' in face of Russia over

Biden also said Thursday he had told his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin that "the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's" activities are over.

During a phone call with Putin last week, Biden said he had raised what he called a host of US concerns, including Moscow's alleged election interference, its alleged bounties to Taliban insurgents for killing American troops and Ukraine.

"We will not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interest and our people," Biden said.

American intelligence agencies claimed Moscow had meddled in the 2016 US presidential election with a campaign of email hacking and online propaganda aimed at sowing discord in the United States, hurting Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and helping Trump.

Both Trump and Russia have repeatedly denied the accusations.

Also, The New York Times said in a report last year, that a top-secret unit within the Russian military intelligence, the GRU, allegedly offered monetary rewards to Taliban-linked militants who would kill US troopers in Afghanistan last year. Other outlets have since carried reports about the allegation.

The Pentagon later said it could not validate the reports. Moscow has denied the allegation and so has the Taliban group.

US ready to work with China when it is in America's interest

Biden called China the US' most serious competitor, noting that Washington was ready to work with Beijing when it is in its interests to do so.

"We will ... take on directly the challenges posed (to) our prosperity, security and democratic values by our most serious competitor, China," Biden said.

"We're ready to work with Beijing, when it's in America's interest to do so," he said during his speech.

The US and China are at loggerheads over issues such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, US military patrols and navigation in the East and South China Seas, the coronavirus and the theft of corporate secrets resulting in shuttering of diplomatic consulates on both sides.

The two countries are also fighting a trade and technological war.

Biden calls on Myanmar military to step down, free detainees

Biden also urged Myanmar's military to relinquish power and release officials and activists detained in a coup.

A junta, led by Myanmar's Commander in Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, took control of the country on early Monday after detaining Suu Kyi, President Win Myint as well as other senior figures from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) party through a coup, which has drawn worldwide condemnation.

The junta, which has declared a one-year emergency across the country, claims that it seized power after it found widespread fraud in elections held three months ago that Suu Kyi's NLD won in a landslide.

Biden said Thursday the US and its allies were working to address the generals' takeover.

"There can be no doubt in a democracy force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election," said Biden.

"The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized and release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications and refrain from violence."

Biden ramps up US refugee admissions to 125,000 per year

Biden said he would set at 125,000 the cap on admissions as part of the US' refugee resettlement program, against 15,000 for the current fiscal year.

The new US president also said he would approve an executive order to restore the country's refugee resettlement program.

"It's going to take time to rebuild what has been so badly damaged," Biden said. "But that's precisely what we're going to do."

In 2016, Trump promised to curb immigration by building a wall on the US border with Mexico, and launched a crackdown on both legal and illegal entries into the country soon after he assumed office.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list