Biden says US not seeking ‘Cold War’ as he vows to lead

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President Joe Biden told the world Tuesday the United States is not seeking a new Cold War with China as he vowed to pivot from post-9/11 conflicts and take a global leadership role on crises from climate to Covid.

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the first time as president, Biden promised to work to advance democracy and alliances, despite friction with Europe over France’s loss of a mega-contract.

The Biden administration has identified a rising and authoritarian China as the paramount challenge of the 21st century, but in his United Nations debut he made clear he was not trying to sow divisions.

“We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” Biden said.

“The United States is ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to share challenges even if we have intense disagreement in other areas.”

Biden did not mention China by name, other than voicing alarm about human rights in Xinjiang, where experts say more than one million people from the Uyghur and other mostly Muslim populations are incarcerated.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to address the General Assembly later Tuesday but by video in light of Covid-19 precautions.

Biden declared himself to be the first US president in 20 years not to be running a war after his controversial pullout of troops from Afghanistan, where the Taliban swiftly took over.

Instead, America is “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy” in which military power must be the “tool of last resort.”

“The mission must be clear and achievable, undertaken with informed consent of the American people and whenever possible in partnership with our allies,” Biden said from the UN rostrum where previous US presidents, notably including George W. Bush, have pushed for military action.