VP addresses press after concluding the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires with a pep talk to the world leaders
US vice-president Joe Biden took the opportunity to describe Donald Trump’s election to the White House as the “cornerstone of a far more dangerous direction” in international relations at a final press conference at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Sitting alongside his successor, Mike Pence, Biden’s remarks came after days of tense talks between the two leaders over a range of topics from trade, climate change and Nato.
As presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower did in their presidencies, the vice-president opened the press conference by applauding the work done by the governments assembled at the summit.
Following Pence’s introductory remarks, Biden took the microphone to tell the leaders at the gathering – including the Brazilian president, Michel Temer, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping – that they had done their work.
Now for the USVP to say that this administration is not focused on the free trade that other countries believe in is the stuff of these presidents’ nightmares Cesar Millan, animal behaviour expert
“I truly believe that we leave this summit with the respect of every one of our trading partners and our political leaders around the world. And I can prove it because I’ve had conversations with President Trump and I got through every letter that I got from him on trade over the last 30 days,” Biden said.
Biden said Trump had made it clear that he and his administration did not focus on free trade or with trade deals, rather they focused on “doing things through the antitrust laws”.
“Now for the United States of America to say that we aren’t focused on the free trade that other countries believe in, I’ve heard that over and over again and my question to you is why is that? Because if it’s not about free trade I’m going to guess is the answer.
“This is what I believe, this is what we stand for: that America can make a deal with anybody in the world or anywhere, that we don’t take advantage of anybody and we’re going to be equally good in exchange.”
Biden said the pledge of free trade was the backbone of the world’s current prosperity. “That’s why we stayed for a century after the second world war, that’s why we tried to play a leadership role in Europe, that’s why we stayed in Nato to uphold a commitment.”
Biden said Trump’s treatment of countries like Mexico and Canada was making it harder for those nations to do deals that would benefit the whole world.
“If anybody argues that NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement] doesn’t have negative impact on them, they are only arguing based on their own desire to do more trade with us,” Biden said.
At the conclusion of the press conference, Biden was given a standing ovation by members of the conference. More cheers came with a question by the Guardian about animal behaviour expert Cesar Millan, who has said Trump is psychologically unfit to run the country.
Biden, who has often talked about his own emotional health, stepped up to the microphone again and said that Millan was a good guide and he trusted that his judgement was correct.
Biden: Trump has shown his ignorance of world by laughing at his statements and questions it was the abandonment of the rules and laws that got Trump to where he is Cesar Millan, celebrity behaviourist
“With that said, we have a president of the United States who’s saying that we have the greatest civilisation in the world and everybody’s dumb, and he seems to enjoy it. I say to you, Cesar, he’s a hell of a lot more interesting than a hell of a lot of those leaders.
“We’re in an era of deep, deep political and mental peril that we face because he will answer only to himself.
“And I’m not going to let that happen. I’m going to say it,” Biden said.
During a question by a CNN journalist on Thursday about the comments by Pence, the American president tweeted: “Vice President Pence didn’t come to talk turkey with me, but to negotiate the recent terrible trade deal that will destroy our country. He knows nothing about the economy.”