WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden used his maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday to declare the U.S. is shifting from "relentless war" to "relentless diplomacy" as he urged foreign leaders to meet the greatest challenges facing the world: the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
"We stand, in my view, at an inflection point in history," Biden said. "Instead of continuing to fight the wars of the past, we are fixing our eyes and devoting our resources to the challenges that hold the keys to our collective future."
Biden called on leaders to quickly step up vaccination efforts and expand access to COVID-19 treatments. He touted the U.S. COVID global response, which includes an investment of more than $15 billion, as a "dose of hope" and said he would announce additional commitments at his virtual COVID-19 summit Wednesday.
"Our security, our prosperity and our very freedoms are interconnected as never before. And so, I believe, we must work together as never before," he said.
The president also used the diplomatic speech to underscore the U.S. is "not seeking a new Cold War," a message directly aimed at China.
"We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs," he said without explicitly mentioning Beijing. "All the major powers of the world have a duty, in my view, to carefully manage their relationships so they do not tip from responsible competition into conflict."
And he reiterated climate change as a "code red for humanity," calling on countries to step up ahead of the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow next month. Biden announced he would work with Congress to double his commitment of $5.7 billion per year to help developing countries cope with the impacts of climate change.
Biden, who's faced questions over U.S. credibility in the wake of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan, emphasized his administration's commitment to rebuilding alliances over the last nine months, including by reassuring NATO and European allies and rejoining multilateral agreements that his predecessor left.
"We're back at the table in international forums, especially the United Nations, Biden said, "to focus attention and spur global action and shared challenges."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden says 'we are not seeking a new Cold War' at UN speech