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President Biden is meeting with British Pime Minister Boris Johnson today as he begins his first foreign trip since taking office. CBS News chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes joins "CBSN AM" to talk about the trip.
JOE BIDEN: This diplomacy is essential, because no single nation acting alone can meet all the challenges we face today, because the world is changing.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: That was President Biden talking to troops in England yesterday about his upcoming meetings with world leaders. It's his first overseas trip since taking office. Tomorrow he heads to the G7 summit, and on Monday meets with NATO leaders. Of course, on Wednesday, he sits down, rather, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. So let's go now to Nancy Cordes, who's traveling with the president.
Nancy, good morning. We know that President Biden is meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in just a few hours. What can we expect from that conversation?
NANCY CORDES: Oh, it is a long agenda, Anne-Marie. Hello to you from a gorgeous Cornwall, England, a beautiful seaside town called St. Ives, where this summit will be taking place. But today, President Biden kicks it off with this conversation, as you mentioned, with the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. At the top of the list, transatlantic air travel.
You know, right now, most Americans traveling here to the UK need to quarantine for 5 to 10 days. And most residents here in the UK can't travel to the US at all. And obviously, both countries are very interested in being able to get back to normal as soon as it is safely possible. So that's something that the two leaders are going to discuss.
They'll also be talking about climate change. Johnson has been very complimentary publicly of President Biden's steps to rejoin the-- the global community when it comes to fighting climate change, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords. And so that'll be on the agenda as well as financing infrastructure in developing nations.
They're going to talk about Northern Ireland and Brexit, a couple of issues where the two leaders do not see eye to eye. So those are touchy subjects for sure. And then they're going to be talking about maintaining a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the drawdown of troops there.
So a lot for the two men to discuss. And they'll have several days together, because even though they're spending a lot of time together one-on-one, they'll also be seeing each other in this series of G7 meetings over the next few days with other major world leaders.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: So we also know that the US has announced that it's planning to donate 500 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries around the world. So White House press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke about this earlier on CBS This Morning. I want to play a little of what she had to say.
JEN PSAKI: We're in this position because we've had so much success at home vaccinating Americans. We've vaccinated a greater percentage of people in the United States than any other country in the world. So we're here because of that. This is going to be distributed, Gayle, through COVAX, which is an international organization that will make sure it's distributed equitably and to the countries that need help the most. So about 92 countries will be benefited from these doses the president's announcing today.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: So this is a good thing to do. But this is also a bit of vaccine diplomacy. Can we talk about how the White House's vaccine diplomacy strategy has sort of evolved over, I guess, the length of the pandemic, or at least since the president-- since Biden has been president?
NANCY CORDES: Absolutely. I mean the-- the priority and the focus early on, of course, was to get as many Americans vaccinated as possible. And the Biden administration was very cautious about announcing donations early on of vaccine to other countries because there was still so much work to do in the United States.
But we have seen the vaccination rate on a daily basis start to drift downwards in the US as more and more the population gets vaccinated there. And you have to keep in mind that in a lot of the world, even some developed countries, the vaccination rate in many of those nations is still under 1% because they simply don't have any vaccines. And the US was coming under some criticism for not being more aggressive about donating some of the massive vaccine supply that it had.
So President Biden looking to make a big splash just as he landed here in the UK by announcing those 500 million doses that have been purchased by Pfizer. 200 million will be donated the second half of this year; another 300 million getting donated the first half of next year to lower- and lower-middle-income countries. And this is really the Biden administration saying that the US wants to take the global lead when it comes to combating the pandemic, with the awareness that we'll never be truly free or even relatively free of this virus until not just Americans but people all over the world get vaccinated.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: Yeah. The other sort of hotly anticipated one-on-one for President Biden is the one that he is going to be having with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. And the president spoke about the relationship the US has with Russia yesterday in a speech. Can you talk about the message he was sending, probably to the world but also to Mr. Putin?
NANCY CORDES: Sure. I mean, it is sort of a split message, if you will, because on one hand, President Biden is kind of upping his tough talk in advance of this summit. He's keenly aware that there's some skepticism out there, both in the US and abroad, about whether this is the right time to meet with Vladimir Putin. After all, the US has just experienced a series of cyber attacks by hackers who are living in Russia. Big companies in the US whose data was essentially held hostage in ransomware attacks, and they ended up having to fork over millions of dollars. It had an impact on various sectors of the US economy.
And there are some who say this isn't the right time to meet with Vladimir Putin, that President Biden shouldn't be sitting down with him unless there's something specific that he wants to get out of it. So President Biden aware of that criticism is kind of saying, look, this is not going to be some friendly chat. I've got things I want to talk about with President Putin, first and foremost, cybersecurity. And I want to deliver that message face-to-face.
On the other hand, in an attempt to avoid antagonizing Putin, he's also saying that the reason he's sitting down with him is because the US wants a stable, predictable relationship with Russia. They don't want to have heightened tensions all the time. So you're really seeing sort of a carrot and stick approach, as we get closer and closer to that sit down in Geneva next week.
ANNE-MARIE GREEN: Hmm. All right. Nancy Cordes traveling with the president. Thank you very much, Nancy.
NANCY CORDES: You're welcome.