Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Expand chart

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had to wait a month for a call from President Biden, and while Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman got a call Thursday, it came not from Biden but from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

The big picture: Biden, Austin, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have together called officials from at least 43 countries, with Blinken alone calling 39 (there’s considerable overlap between their call lists).

  • The administration’s first calls generally went to America’s neighbors, Canada and Mexico, followed by the U.K., France, Germany as well as leaders from the EU and NATO.
  • Major U.S. partners in the Pacific (Australia, India, Japan and South Korea) have also taken priority, while Biden and Blinken have both spoken with their “great power” counterparts in China and Russia.
  • Biden’s 12th and most recent call went to Netanyahu, but he otherwise hasn’t spoken with any U.S. partners in the Middle East. And while Blinken has spoken with officials in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, there has yet to be a single call announced with Egypt.

Between the lines: While Netanyahu had to wait a few weeks for a call, Blinken, Austin and Sullivan all held early calls with their Israeli counterparts. If any longtime U.S. partner should be wary of a “snub,” it’s probably the Egyptians.

  • The Biden administration has already raised concerns about human rights abuses by the Egyptian government, in a clear break from Trump’s “my favorite dictator” approach to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. However, the State Department still approved a big arms deal with Egypt this week.

Why it matters: The calls give some sense of Biden’s early priorities.

  • Excluding Israel, there have been fewer calls to the Middle East (seven total to Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE) than to Southeast Asia (eight calls to Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam).
  • The administration’s focus on the Indo-Pacific was further underlined by Blinken’s participation Thursday in discussions with his counterparts from the “Quad” strategic dialogue: Australia, India and Japan.
  • Blinken also met virtually Thursday with officials from France, Germany and the U.K. to discuss issues including Iran, the administration’s one genuine priority in the Middle East.

Worth noting: There have been relatively few calls thus far to Latin America or Africa. Leaders in both regions are hoping for more attention from Biden than they received from Trump.

What to watch: Biden will address the Munich Security Conference on Friday and also take part in the virtual G7 summit, two of his first “international” engagements as president.

Go deeper

Feb 17, 2021 - World

Biden finally calls Netanyahu

Biden sits with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a dinner at the prime minister's residence in 2010, in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Pool/Getty Images

President Joe Biden spoke on the phone today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, one month after taking office.

Why it matters: In recent weeks, the White House faced questions over Biden’s decision to call the leaders of a dozen allies and world powers before calling Netanyahu. 

Feb 18, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Blinken tells EU counterparts U.S. is ready to open talks with Iran

Photo: Pool/Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his counterparts from the E3 — France, Germany and the U.K. — in a video conference on Thursday that the U.S. is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement on returning to full compliance of the 2015 nuclear deal, according to a joint readout of the call.

Why it matters: The U.S. and Iran still haven't engaged in direct talks since President Biden assumed office. Both sides are exchanging public messages demanding the other take the first step to move forward with the nuclear deal.

Feb 18, 2021 - World

Austin warns of NATO threats and signals new era of cooperation with allies

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, on Wednesday. Photo: Michael Reynolds/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin signaled a new era of cooperation during a NATO meeting Wednesday while warning of the threat from "strategic competitors," per a news conference with Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.

Why it matters: Austin's first meeting with NATO defense ministers marks a clear shift from the previous administration. Relations with European allies became so strained under former President Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron referred to NATO as "brain dead."