President Biden departed the United States Wednesday on his first foreign trip as president, with stops in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Switzerland, and meetings with world leaders, including Queen Elizabeth II and Russian President Vladimir Putin, planned over the next seven days.
But Biden had a summit of a different sort before he left. On the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, the president swatted away what appeared to be a cicada that had landed on his neck.
“Watch out for the cicadas,” he told reporters before boarding Air Force One. “One just got me.”
The large flying insects have swarmed the eastern United States in recent weeks, with Brood X cicadas blanketing the Washington, D.C., area, in particular. The periodical cicadas make an appearance every 17 years.
On Tuesday night, the plane set to carry dozens of journalists to Europe to cover Biden’s first trip abroad was grounded after cicadas filled its engines, delaying its departure for more than five hours.
The president’s plane, though, flew off without a hitch.
In Europe, Biden will participate in the G-7 summit that kicks off Thursday in the U.K., the NATO summit in Brussels on June 14 and a highly anticipated meeting with Putin in Geneva on June 16.
After relaying the cicada incident, Biden was asked what he hoped to accomplish on the trip.
“Strengthening the alliance,” he said. “Make it clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are tight.”
The president also said he has a global vaccine strategy that he’ll be announcing in the coming days.
Asked whether he might forge some kind of understanding with Putin on the recent cyberattacks, Biden paused, then replied: “Who knows?”
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