On a visit to Europe, Vice President Biden stopped in France to praise the two countries’ partnership against terrorists in Mali.
In a February 2 interview with the French daily, Le Figaro, the septuagenarian Biden said France is America's oldest and one of its closest allies. He explained that he's visited Europe more than any other region, showing the importance of the close trans-Atlantic partnership and shared values of the two regions.
From Afghanistan to Libya, Iran to Mali, economic globalization and climate change, Biden said the US stands beside and works together with France.
Mali: US leading from behind?
During France's war with terrorists in Mali, Washington provided military and logistical support, after some hesitation. The interviewer asked Biden if that's because the United States would prefer to "lead from behind" or because the US doesn't see Mali as a strategic priority.
Biden disagreed that the Obama administration hesitated to aid France, explaining that the US provided significant assistance, including intelligence, transport and aerial refueling. He said France's president, Francois Hollande, warmly accepted the US assistance.
Under the authority of UN Security Council resolution 2085, France led a military campaign to restore stability in Mali, which was progressively under attack from Islamic terrorists who occupied the north of the country.
On the question of Iran's pursuit of an atomic weapon, Biden said the ball is in the Iranians’ court. He explained that the US has done everything possible to reach a diplomatic solution but the diplomatic window is narrowing.
Biden said Iran continues to pose new conditions in an effort to gain time. At this stage, he said, there's still no agreement on the next round of talks. Biden also said that Obama was clear: Iran will not be allowed to acquire nuclear arms but the Obama administration believes there's still time for a diplomatic solution.
Obama's Second Term
On the question of Obama's re-election, Biden told the interviewer there are four areas of focus for the second-term administration. He said they will continue to concentrate on growth of employment and the economy, giving the middle class a new and equal chance to succeed.
The second priority will be the reduction of gun violence. The third priority for the Obama administration is the protection of the Earth for future generations while directly confronting climate change. Biden explained that exploration of renewable energy will be the focus of the second administration.
The fourth priority is the reform of current immigration laws, which Biden said simply don't work. He said the administration wants to work with both parties to guard the border and punish companies that hire illegal immigrants.
After the tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut, Biden said the time for action on gun control has arrived.
That's why, he said, the administration has a specific plan to control gun violence in the US from a domestic and global point of view. He said the plan respects the constitutional right to own guns while recognizing that many who want to cause harm should not have that right.
Some elements of the plan have already been put into place, Biden said, while others will require time.
Biden said that some believe the laws are in the hands of the president while some believe Congress must enact the laws. But he said the administration plans to push Congress to make the trafficking of weapons in the US a federal crime with severe penalties. The administration also will reinforce the current system of identity verification for gun buyers to keep "dangerous individuals" from buying arms. Biden said the sale of automatic weapons will no longer be permitted and the capacity of weapons cartridges will be limited.
Biden said the administration believes the Americans who elected them, want the Obama administration to act in their name and believe they want them to act now. Recalling Obama's statement that saving just one life through a dramatic reform of gun laws would be worth it, Biden said he hopes the new laws will protect many lives and that is how the administration will measure the success of new gun laws.
Clinton Gillespie is the publisher of Spero News.