Washington, May 30 (EFE).- President Joe Biden on Sunday focused his public remarks on the June 16 meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, while most Americans were looking to try and return to life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic on the long Memorial Day weekend.
Biden traveled to Delaware to attend an event at which he paid tribute to US soldiers who have died in combat and who also will be remembered on Memorial Day itself, Monday, a date that marks for Americans the first day of summer and is regularly an opportunity for family get-togethers and outings.
This year, the Memorial Day weekend will be the first weekend holiday on which Americans who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be able to participate in indoor or outdoor events without using a facemask, according to the guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During Biden’s public appearance in Delaware, he was not wearing a facemask, along with many of the people attending the event.
In a short speech, the president called US troops the “backbone of the nation” and expressed his gratitude to them.
In addition, he recalled his older son, Beau, who was an Army veteran and died of brain cancer in 2015 at age 46.
Biden also spent time during his remarks talking about his upcoming meeting with Putin, which will occur during an extraordinary low point in US-Russian relations.
The US leader, who described this country as “unique” and emphasized that each generation of Americans received a precious gift of freedom, said that it is the US duty to defend human rights.
He said that recently he had held a two-hour conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping in which he made clear to his counterpart that the US administration will defend human rights around the world.
Biden added that he will meet with Putin in a couple of weeks in Geneva to make clear to him that the US will not stand idly by and allow human rights to be abused.
The Biden-Putin summit will take place at the end of the first foreign trip by the US president, who is scheduled to travel to the United Kingdom in June to attend the G7 meeting and then to go to Brussels, where he will participate in the NATO summit and in a European Union meeting.
The Kremlin, however, has downplayed the idea of a resumption of less contentious relations with the US after the summit.
In March, Moscow called its ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, home for consultations after Biden called Putin a “killer,” and since then the envoy has not returned to his post.
And after the announcement of sanctions by the US in April – which included the expulsion of 10 members of the Russian diplomatic mission in Washington – Moscow called in US Ambassador John Sullivan and recommended that he leave the country for consultations with his superiors back home, which he did shortly thereafter.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans were enjoying a long weekend on which restrictions to curtail the spread of the pandemic have begun to be eased for the ever-increasing number of people who have been vaccinated against Covid.
According to the CDC, about 134.4 million people – or 40.5 percent of the US population – have been fully vaccinated, while 50.3 percent – about 167.1 million – have received at least one dose of one of the two-dose vaccines.
The Transportation Safety Administration revealed that on Friday, when the holiday weekend kicked off, that about 1.9 million people has passed through US airports, a figure not seen since the start of the pandemic more than a year ago.
The CDC has said that facemasks should be used on all public transportation and in some places where infection could be easier or could put vulnerable portions of the population at risk.