WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will make a week-long, three country trip next month for a quartet of summits—including one that could potentially put him in the same room as China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced Friday that Biden will first travel to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on Nov. 11 for the COP 27 climate conference before heading to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to participate in the U.S.-ASEAN Summit of Southeast Asian leaders and the East Asia Summit. He'll then head to Bali, Indonesia for the Group of 20 summit, a gathering of leaders from most of the world's largest economies.
The president's overseas travel begins just days after the pivotal midterm elections in the United States, which will determine which party controls the House and Senate.
The G-20 summit could also offer Biden his first opportunity as president to meet face-to-face with his Chinese counterpart, Xi, and potentially puts him in the same room with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The prince, who often is referred to by his initials MBS, is the de facto leader of the oil rich kingdom.
Putin, Xi and MBS have yet to announce their travel plans.
Biden and Xi travelled together in the U.S. and China when both were vice presidents and have held several calls since Biden became president in January 2021. But the U.S.-China relationship has become increasingly fraught.
The U.S. president has taken China to task for human rights abuses against the Uyghur and other ethnic minorities, squelching democracy activists' voices in Hong Kong, coercive trade practices, its military provocations against democratic, self-ruled Taiwan and differences over Russia's prosecution of its eight-month -old war against Ukraine
Xi's government, meanwhile, has criticized the Biden administration's posture toward Taiwan—which Beijing looks to eventually unify with communist mainland China— as undermining China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said earlier this week that U.S. and Chinese officials were working to arrange a meeting of the leaders but one has not yet been confirmed. Biden on Wednesday at the start of a meeting with Defense Department officials underscored the "responsibility to manage increasingly intense competition with China.”
“We must maintain, as I said, our military advantage, but we’re making it clear that we don’t seek conflict,” Biden said.
It's less likely that Biden would hold one-on-one meetings with Putin or MBS.
The Biden administration organized the international community to hit Moscow with a barrage of sanctions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has pledged more than $40 billion in economic and military assistance to assist Ukraine and its neighbors impacted by the war.
Biden and Putin held a face-to-face meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in June 2021, months before Russia began massing troops along Ukraine's border. They last spoke by phone in February, with Biden warning Putin that Russia would face “severe costs” if he moved forward with the invasion.
Biden announced earlier this month that there would be “consequences” for Saudi Arabia after the Riyadh-led OPEC+ alliance moves to cut oil production. The White House also said it is reevaluating its relationship with the kingdom in light of the oil production cut that White House officials say will help Russia, another OPEC+ member, pad its coffers as it continues its nearly eight-month war in Ukraine.
Vice President Kamala Harris will travel separately to Bangkok, Thailand, to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ meeting Nov. 18-19, and then visit Manila, the Philippines, the White House said.