Calls between Biden and European countries set a new tone for transatlantic relationships

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The U.S. President-elect spoke to Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Boris Johnson and Micheál Martin

President-elect of the U.S. Joe Biden spoke to fellow heads of government and state of four European countries on Tuesday, as per a press release from his presidential transition team. Congratulatory calls are customary after an election victory but they are especially significant this year as Mr. Biden has said he will renew transatlantic relationships, which have frayed under current U.S. President Donald Trump.

Also read: Comment | Under Biden, unfurling India’s foreign policy concerns

On a call with French President Emmanuel Macron, Mr. Biden discussed “ his interest in reinvigorating bilateral and transatlantic ties, including through the NATO and the EU.”

Also discussed were COVID-19 and a sustainable economic recovery, Iran’s nuclear programme, climate change and human rights. Mr. Biden had said earlier that as President he would offer Iran “a credible path back to diplomacy” — potentially helping to re-instate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (which collapsed after the U.S. withdrew from it). He has also said he will rejoin the Paris accord.

Mr. Biden also discussed the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria with Mr. Macron, as per the press release.

The President-elect also spoke with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and “praised her leadership” as per the readout of the call.

Topics Mr. Biden and Ms. Merkel discussed included COVID-19, climate crisis, the sustainable global economic recovery.

Mr. Biden “ also welcomed the opportunity to cooperate on a shared agenda with the EU.”

Mr. Trump’s relationship with Ms. Merkel was tense — the two were at loggerheads over tariffs, the NATO and their different approaches to immigration.

Mr. Biden also spoke with Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, with whom Mr. Trump has a warm relationship. Mr. Biden reaffirmed his commitment to the Good Friday Agreement (the Northern Ireland peace agreement) with both leaders.

This had been a point of discussion when British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab visited the U.S. in September.

“We can’t allow the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland to become a casualty of Brexit,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “Any trade deal between the U.S. and U.K. must be contingent upon respect for the Agreement and preventing the return of a hard border. Period.”

“The President-elect [Biden] noted [ on his call with Mr. Johnson] that he especially looks forward to working closely together on global challenges as the United Kingdom prepares to host the 2021 G-7 and the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26),” the press release said.

Mr. Johnson also announced the congratulatory phone call on Twitter, saying the two had discussed “shared priorities.”

Several world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have congratulated Mr. Biden for his electoral victory since Saturday. Mr. Trump has made unsubstantiated claims of large scale electoral fraud and has not conceded the election. The New York Times reported that some American embassy officials have been told not to help with calls between foreign leaders and Mr. Biden.

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