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Biden to U.N.: U.S. ‘will lead on all the greatest challenges of our time,’ but ‘not go it alone’

President Joe Biden on Tuesday promised the United Nations that the U.S. will address the world’s problems but will not engage in unilateral action, as he aimed to use his first speech to the U.N. General Assembly to reassure allies even as he draws flak for his administration’s recent handling of issues affecting Afghanistan, France and Haiti.

“We will lead on all the greatest challenges of our time — from COVID to climate, peace and security, human dignity and human rights, but we will not go it alone,” Biden told world leaders meeting mostly in person in New York City.

“We will lead, together with our allies and partners, and in cooperation with all those who believe, as we do, that this is within our power to meet these challenges — to build a future, to lift all of our people and preserve this planet.”

The president said his administration isn’t “continuing to fight the wars of the past,” but instead is focused on “ending this pandemic, addressing the climate crisis, managing the shifts in global power dynamics, shaping the rules of the world on vital issues like trade, cyber and emerging technologies, and facing the threat of terrorism as it stands today.”

“Whenever possible, in partnership with our allies, U.S. military power must be our tool of last resort, not our first,” Biden said.

Biden’s mantra has been “America is back,” in a reference to how his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, rattled U.S. allies.

But he has faced criticism following a chaotic American withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new defense pact with Australia and the U.K. that has angered France, and the U.S. government’s approach to thousands of Haitian refugees who set up camp at a Texas border town.

On the topic of climate change, the president said on Tuesday that the U.S. doubled its public financing earlier this year for developing nations tackling the climate crisis. He said that he will “work with the Congress to double that number again,” in order to “meet the goal of mobilizing $100 billion to support climate action in developing nations.”

In a nod to ongoing tensions with Russia and China, Biden said the U.S. is “not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocks.”

U.S. stocks
DJIA,
+0.36%

traded higher on Tuesday, recovering somewhat after the S&P 500
SPX,
+0.29%

on Monday endured its biggest drop since May.

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