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VP Kamala Harris visiting Guatemala, Mexico as Biden prepares to visit Europe

Kamala Harris, Pedro Brolois Gautemala
Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-07 13:27:31-04

On Monday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan previewed President Joe Biden's upcoming foreign trip to Europe, where he'll meet with U.K. leaders, leaders with the EU and NATO, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Biden's meeting June 16 meeting with Putin will mark the first between the two world leaders and comes amid deteriorating relations between the countries.

Intelligence officials say Russia was behind a massive 2020 cyberattack that exposed dozens of government agencies. Also, in recent months, several ransomware attacks that officials say originated in Russia have crippled several American businesses, though officials say it's unclear if the government was involved.

During Monday's briefing, Sullivan noted that Biden's meetings with NATO and the European Union will prepare him for the meeting with Putin.

"He will go into this meeting with the wind at his back," Sullivan said.

He added that he believes the president's trip will leave the U.S. in a stronger place in ending the pandemic, fighting climate change, fighting cybersecurity attacks and in relations with Russia and China.

Sullivan's comments came as Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala on her first foreign trip.

The Biden administration is expected to announce new measures to fight smuggling and trafficking, and hopes to announce additional anti-corruption efforts as well on Monday, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters traveling with Harris on Sunday.

Harris has been tasked by President Joe Biden with addressing the root causes of the spike in migration to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Corruption, which the administration sees as directly related to the increased migration, is expected to be a central focus of her meetings with Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Monday and Mexico’s Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday.

Harris will appear in a joint press conference with Giammattei early Wednesday afternoon and take part in several other public events before traveling to Mexico City Monday evening.

Harris arrived in Guatemala on Sunday evening after technical issues forced a delay in travel. Harris' plane was forced to return to Joint Base Andrews about 30 minutes after takeoff when the crew noticed that the aircraft's landing gear wasn't storing properly.

The plane landed safely and she gave a thumbs-up when she got off.

“I’m good, I’m good. We all said a little prayer, but we’re good,” Harris said upon the landing.

Harris and her team boarded another plane about 30 minutes later and arrived safely in Guatemala Sunday evening with no further issues.