Biden vows to repair US alliances, rejects Trump's 'America First' policy

WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden promised to repair America's alliances and engage with the world once again, in his inaugural address as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday (Jan 20).

In a rejection of his predecessor Donald Trump's "America First" isolationist turn, he said: "America has been tested and we've come out stronger for it. We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.

"Not to meet yesterday's challenges, but today's and tomorrow's challenges. And we'll lead not merely by the example of our power but by the power of our example."

Mr Biden vowed that America would be a strong and trusted partner for peace, progress and security, and that it would "again be the leading force for good in the world".

Mr Biden takes office amid unprecedented challenges, from a raging pandemic that has killed 400,000 people and axed millions of jobs, to the rise of white supremacy and domestic terrorism at home.

Unity, he said, was the key to overcome these crises and the way forward in tackling climate change and delivering racial justice.

"This is a time of testing. We face an attack on our democracy and on truth. A raging virus. Growing inequity. The sting of systemic racism. A climate in crisis. America's role in the world," he said.

"Any one of these would be enough to challenge us in profound ways, but the fact is we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had. Now we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? It's time for boldness, for there's so much to do."

Mr Biden devoted a significant portion of his speech to urging Americans to overcome the social and political divides that has riven much of the nation, calling on them to respect fellow citizens and have civil dialogues once more.

"Every disagreement doesn't have to be a cause for total war. And we must reject the culture in which facts themselves are manipulated and even manufactured," he said, denouncing "lies told for power and for profit".

Just as America must not turn inwards from the world, Americans should not turn inwards and retreat into competing factions, he said.

"We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue. Rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal. We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts," said Mr Biden.