At U.N., Biden promises era of ‘relentless diplomacy’ after military mistakes

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(C) Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden meets with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland

NEW YORK (Reuters) -President Joe Biden defended the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday in a speech to the United Nations, arguing it was a necessary step to pivot U.S. policy to focus on a global challenge from anti-democratic systems, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and as we close this era of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy,” Biden said, making his first appearance as president at the U.N. General Assembly.

Facing criticism of the Afghan pullout, Biden vowed to defend vital U.S. national interests, but said “the mission must be clear and achievable,” and the American military “must not be used as the answer to every problem we see around the world.”

Biden hoped to present a compelling case that the United States remains a reliable ally to its partners around the world after years of “America First” policies pursued by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump.

Biden said the world is facing a decisive decade and that addressing a variety of challenges “will hinge on our ability to recognize our common humanity.” He said that “instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes” on challenges such as the global pandemic, addressing climate change, cyber threats and managing the shift of “global power dynamics.”

At U.N., Biden promises era of ‘relentless diplomacy’ after military mistakes

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