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Biden, Trump hold different views on key foreign policy issues

In this combination of photos, President Joe Biden, left, speaks on Aug. 10, 2023, in Salt Lake City, and former President Donald Trump speaks on June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, New Jersey.
In this combination of photos, President Joe Biden, left, speaks on Aug. 10, 2023, in Salt Lake City, and former President Donald Trump speaks on June 13, 2023, in Bedminster, New Jersey.

U.S. President Joe Biden, the Democratic Party’s 2024 presidential nominee, and former President Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s presumptive nominee, hold very different views on key foreign and domestic issues. Here’s an overview of where each one stands on foreign policy.


Biden endorses sending military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine to aid its fight against Russia, while warning that Western countries cannot allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to achieve victory. To date, the Biden administration has sanctioned Russian individuals and entities and sent $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine since the February 2022 Russian invasion.

Biden said on March 7, 2024, “Putin of Russia is on the march, invading Ukraine and sowing chaos throughout Europe and beyond. If anybody in this room thinks Putin will stop at Ukraine, I assure you, he will not. But Ukraine can stop Putin if we stand with Ukraine and provide the weapons it needs to defend itself. That is all Ukraine is asking. They are not asking for American soldiers.”

Trump has said NATO countries are not paying their share of aid to Ukraine and claimed the United States has sent more than other countries. At a February rally, Trump said he told an unnamed NATO member that he would encourage Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” to any alliance member that does not meet spending guidelines on defense. In a 2023 speech in New Hampshire, Trump said, “Shortly after I win the presidency, I will have the horrible war between Russia and Ukraine settled.”

Throughout his presidency, Trump faced multiple accusations of collusion with Russia and was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 18, 2019, for charges he leveraged U.S. aid to Ukraine in return for damaging information on potential political rival Joe Biden. Trump denied those charges and was later acquitted by the U.S. Senate.


Biden said on March 7, 2024, “We have the best economy in the world. And since I've come to office, our GDP is up, our trade deficit with China is down to the lowest point over a decade and we're standing up against China's unfair economic practices. We're standing up for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. I've revitalized our partnership and alliance in the Pacific. India, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Pacific Islands. I made sure that the most advanced American technologies can't be used in China, not allowing to trade them there. Frankly, for all this tough talk on China, it never occurred to my predecessor to do any of that. I want competition with China, not conflict. And we're in a stronger position to win the conflict of the 21st century against China than anyone else, for that matter, than any time as well."

During his presidency, Trump denounced the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party as the most significant foreign policy challenge of this generation. He said China was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic and penalized China for ending the “one country, two states” policy in Hong Kong. In a May 2020 speech, Trump said, “The United States wants an open and constructive relationship with China, but achieving that relationship requires us to vigorously defend our national interests.”

On his campaign website, Trump said, “To protect our country, we need to enact aggressive new restrictions on Chinese ownership of any vital infrastructure in the United States, including energy, technology, telecommunications, farmland, natural resources, medical supplies, and other strategic national assets. We should stop all future Chinese purchases in these essential industries. And we should begin the process of forcing the Chinese to sell any current holdings that put our national security at risk.”


Biden says Israel has a right to go after Hamas but has warned Israel against killing Palestinian civilians. In March, Biden announced the construction of an offshore port to deliver aid to Gaza.

Biden said in New York on March 9, 2024, “I'm never going to leave Israel. The defense of Israel is still critical, so there's no red line I'm going to cut off all weapons, so they don't have the Iron Dome to protect them. They don't have ... but there's red lines that if he crosses and they continue … you cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead as a consequence of going after, there's other ways to deal, to get to, to deal with the trauma caused by Hamas.”

Trump released a Middle East peace plan in 2020 calling for a two-state solution that would have given Israel control of a unified Jerusalem and maintained its settlements in the West Bank.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper on March 25, 2024, Trump said of the current conflict, “What I saw October 7 was one of the saddest things I've ever seen. ... You have to finish up your war. To finish it up. You got to get it done. And I am sure you will do that. And we got to get to peace; we can't have this going on. And I will say, Israel has to be very careful, because you're losing a lot of the world, you're losing a lot of support, you have to finish up, you have to get the job done. And you have to get on to peace, to get on to a normal life for Israel.”


Biden spent more than two years attempting to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration before declaring it “dead.” Last year, the Biden administration negotiated the release of five American hostages in return for unfreezing billions in Iranian assets.

Biden said in Washington on March 7, 2024, "Creating stability in the Middle East also means containing the threat posed by Iran. That's why I built a coalition of more than a dozen countries to defend international shipping and freedom of navigation in the Red Sea. I've ordered strikes to degrade the Houthi capability and defend U.S. forces in the region. As commander in chief, I will not hesitate to direct further measures to protect our people and our military personnel."

Among Trump’s proudest achievements was the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA. He also authorized the strike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force — the terrorist branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC — a move he called “the boldest action of his presidency.”

North Korea

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated it is open to negotiations with North Korea with no preconditions but has yet to offer any incentives in the form of economic assistance to encourage North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un to open talks. Biden has met with regional allies and last year announced a new nuclear deterrence agreement, with South Korea, that would allow the U.S. to dock submarines in South Korean ports.

During his presidency, Trump pursued “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” of North Korea but eventually developed a good personal relationship with Jong-Un after multiple meetings. His personal diplomacy did not result in any agreements between the two countries.

VOA's Saqib Ui Islam contributed to this report.