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After NATO, Biden turns to EU for renewal of transatlantic ties


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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden holds a news conference during a NATO summit at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, Belgium June 14, 2021. Olivier Hoslet/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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By John Chalmers and Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will intensify his push to renew relations with Europe on Tuesday after a summit at NATO, meeting with European Union leaders to seek a truce in trade wars and a 17-year-long aircraft subsidy dispute.

Seen as another opportunity to re-set ties after four tense years with Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who imposed tariffs on the EU and promoted Britain’s departure from the bloc, the meeting aims to pause the world’s largest corporate trade dispute between U.S. planemaker Boeing (NYSE:) and Europe’s Airbus.

Biden told NATO leaders “America is back” at a news conference in Brussels late on Monday. He is seeking European support to defend Western liberal democracies in the face of a more assertive Russia and China’s military and economic rise.

“We’re facing a once in a century global health crisis at the same time the demographic values that undergird (us) are under increasing pressure,” Biden said, referring to COVID-19. “Russia and China are both seeking to drive a wedge in our transatlantic solidarity.”

According to an EU-U.S. draft final summit statement seen by Reuters, Washington and Brussels will commit to ending the dispute over aircraft subsidies and another row over punitive tariffs related to steel and aluminium.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai discussed the aircraft dispute in her first face-to-face meeting with EU counterpart Valdis Dombrovskis on Monday ahead of Tuesday’s U.S.-EU summit. The pair are due to speak on Tuesday afternoon.

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Freezing the conflict over jet subsides, some of which have been rescinded or wound down, would give both sides more time to focus on broader agendas such as concerns over China’s state-driven economic model, diplomats said.

The EU-U.S. summit starts at around midday Central European Time. Biden is also due to meet the Belgian king, prime minister and the country’s foreign minister. On Wednesday, he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

Biden’s summit in Brussels will be with the EU’s chief executive Ursula von der Leyen and the EU’s chairman Charles Michel, who represents EU governments.

The summit draft statement to be released at the end of the meeting said they had “a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights”.

There are no firm new transatlantic pledges on climate in the draft summit statement, however, and both sides will steer clear of setting a date to stop burning coal.

The EU and the United States are the world’s top trading powers, along with China, but Trump sought to sideline the EU.

After scotching a free-trade agreement with the EU, the Trump administration focused on shrinking a growing U.S. deficit in goods trade. Biden, however, sees the EU as an ally in promoting free trade, as well as in fighting climate change and ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

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