- Biden is wrapping up APEC hosting duties in San Francisco
- He passed the torch to Peru’s president, the fifth in six years there
- Earlier he joked that Mexico’s president was ‘so captivating’ at event with Jill
President Joe Biden approached the completion of his hosting duties at the APEC summit in San Francisco with a joke that could either mean he’s enjoying himself or ready to jump aboard Air Force One to leave.
‘We’re going to extend this conference another five days,’ he quipped as he sat down at a round table with leaders from the Asia Pacific region, including China’s leader Xi Jinping.
Near the end of an event that had him go toe-to-toe with Xi, Biden touted a new women’s initiative while surrounded by a group of powerful leaders sporting dark suits that included just a single woman, in white.
‘I’ve got more women in my cabinet than men so I’ve got to get this straight,’ he told the listening world leaders. Then, Biden passed the ‘ceremonial torch’ to Peru’s president Dina Boluarte, the first female president in Peru’s history.
‘I know president – excuse me I know President Boul-te is shares this commitment,’ Biden said, forcing his way through an approximation of ‘Boluarte.’
‘We’ll be hanging out in Peru – the views are going to be nice too,’ Biden said, smiling at her. His remark also drew a smile from Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The program Biden touted is a new ‘women in the sustainable economy initiative.’ He said partners had already pledged $900 million ‘to increase women participation in blue and green industries like forest management, clean energy, fisheries and recycling.’
Boluarte has only been in office since December, when she replaced President Pedro Castillo following his ouster. She was the sixth president of Peru in five years when she took over.
It came a day after Biden, who overcame a childhood speech impediment, skipped over a company’s name rather than trying to say it in a prepared speech.
‘I’m going to mispronounce. I’m not going to even try,’ he said at the event saluting corporate innovation.
‘I want you to know next year when the APEC summit host, Peru will help drive these economies forward,’ Boluarte told him in her own remarks.
Then Boluarte engaged in a bit of tour promotion for her country, after a summit where Gov. Gavin Newsom trumpeted the California lifestyle and San Francisco Mayor London Breed championed her city’s eclectic neighborhoods and and culture, even while the city had to engage in a months-long cleanup effort amid housing and homelessness problems.
‘We will welcome you with the affection we always show,’ Boluarte said.
‘We hope to see each and every one of you improve next year in Arequipa in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, in Urubamba, in the beautiful springtime city of Trujillo, in the beautiful area of the Amazon – Pucallpa, and of course in our capital, Lima, Peru,’ she said.
‘We will work together hand in hand, all of us so that APEC next year shines with its own light from our imperial city of Cusco, our beloved Peru out towards the world,’ she said.
Her remarks came after Boluarte held her own meeting with China’s Xi Jinping, where they discussed a major Belt and Road project in her country.
Earlier, Biden pressed Mexico on the countering the fentanyl epidemic after securing commitments from the Chinese to clamp down on ‘precursor’ chemicals of the drug that is ravaging the nation.
Biden revealed his intention to bring up the sensitive issue during friendly remarks with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador – with Biden even joking that his wife first lady Jill Biden fancies the younger North American leader, 70.
Both men also referenced the immigration crisis, with Biden lauding efforts to do with ‘enforcing our borders’ and both men championing new ‘legal pathways’ to entry into the U.S.
‘We’re working side by side to combat arms trafficking, to tackle organized crime and to address the opioid epidemic and including fentanyl, which when we talk privately, I want to tell you about my great conversation with Xi Jinping on that,’ Biden told his Mexican counterpart.
Their sit down in San Francisco comes two days after the powerful Chinese leader Biden said he still considers a ‘dictator’ agreed to steps to limit the manufacture in China of precursor chemicals to the powerful drug. Those materials get shipped to Mexico and other Latin American nations where the drug contributes to rising U.S. overdose depths, including some Biden this week said have occurred in his home state.
Biden raised the sensitive issues of drugs and immigration after complimenting his left-leaning guest with a joke about a banquet at the APEC conference Biden is hosting here in San Francisco.
‘I told you, you sat next to my wife you were so captivating I was worried she likes you more than she likes me now,’ Biden quipped.
Lopez Obrador, known as AMLO, was complimentary toward his host, and kept his remarks uncharicalistically brief as the president prepares to fly home to Delaware.
‘And I would also like to express and to say that he is the first president in the United States in recent times who has not built walls. It is true, and we need to continue to support one another so migration is an option and not enforced,’ he said.
Speaking to the fentanyl issue that is a political vulnerability for Biden, he said: ‘Mexico’s undertaking is to continue to support so we do not allow the introduction of chemical components and chemical precursors to fentanyl because we’re fully aware of the damage it poses to the United States youth. This is a matter of humanism. It’s an act of solidarity. We are sincerely committed to continue to assist at our policy capacity to prevent drug trafficking,’ he said.
He spoke of 40 million Mexicans living in the U.S., and cheered new policies that let Central Americans apply for entry into the U.S. from their home countries as an alternative to illegal crossings through Mexico with ‘all the suffering and risks such endeavor poses.’
‘It’s a humane way to address the migratory phenomenon,’ he said.
‘He is the first president in recent times in opening legal pathways for migration,’ Lopez Obrador said of Biden.
He concluded his remarks lauding Biden, who even while in California encountered more concerning poll numbers as he faces reelection next year.
‘You have an extraordinary president in the United States. A man with convictions. A good man,’ he said.