US President Joe Biden will reject the notion that the world is on the brink of a new Cold War when he addresses the UN General Assembly this week, a senior administration official said on Monday.
The official, briefing reporters on the substance of Biden's Tuesday speech on condition of anonymity, said the president "will communicate tomorrow that he does not believe in the notion of a new Cold War with the world divided into blocs."
"He believes in vigorous, intensive, principled competition that does not tip over into conflict," the official said. "It is our firm commitment to stand up for our interests, and to stand up for our allies, but to do so in a way that is responsible, and that does not drive toward conflict – either intended or unintended."
The comments come after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres raised the alarm that the US and China are facing the possibility of entering a new Cold War, saying such a conflict could split the world in two at a time when the nations need to cooperate to meet major pressing challenges, including climate change.
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Guterres also called the US-Sino relationship "deeply dysfunctional," adding that "today we only have confrontation" between the world's top two economies.
"We need to avoid at all cost a Cold War that would be different from the past one, and probably more dangerous and more difficult to manage," Guterres told the Associated Press.
"Now, today, everything is more fluid, and even the experience that existed in the past to manage crisis is no longer there."
The warning comes after the US angered China by striking a deal alongside the UK to provide Australia with a nuclear-powered submarine fleet. The agreement, made as the nations formed a new security pact, also set off indignation in France, which had previously negotiated a deal to sell Australia a dozen conventionally powered submarines.
In his first speech before the General Assembly as president, Biden will seek to emphasize that the end of the US' 20-year war in Afghanistan has opened a new chapter of intensive diplomacy on the global stage.
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Biden will seek to rally US allies, partners, and institutions "to deal with the major challenges of our time," including climate change, COVID-19, emerging technologies, and the global trade and economic order, the official said.