Biden digs in on diplomacy as fellow G20 leaders don matching white shirts to plant mangrove trees

Biden digs in on diplomacy as fellow G20 leaders don matching white shirts (the president wore blue) while he and Macron are told to ‘immerse yourselves in the beauty of nature’

  • Biden joined G20 leaders for mangrove sapling planting in Bali
  • Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov wasn’t there
  • The event was delayed while Biden huddled with NATO leaders
  • That came after a missile exploded inside Polish territory on Ukraine border
  • Mangrove trees can capture carbon and protect species 
  • ‘Push to fill the hole with soil,’ an announcer instructed them 

President Joe Biden got back to his roots in foreign affairs and back-slapping diplomacy in Bali, lining up with G20 leaders to plant mangrove trees.

It was a highly-organized event put on by the host country to emphasize environmental stewardship – but it capped a summit that was dominated by stress over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The tree planting itself got held up for hours as Biden and key NATO allies held an emergency meeting to discuss the missile explosion inside Poland on the Ukrainian border.

Indonesian President President Joko Widodo was left waiting for more than an hour after Biden had to rejig his schedule to focus on the threat.

Keep digging!  President Biden joined Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a mangrove sapling planting event at the end of the G20 summit in Indonesia

When Biden did make it to the event, he joined leaders decked out in matching white shirts, with most of them wearing white baseball caps at the Hutan Mangrove Forrest.

The group lined up against mangrove saplings for the planting. The trees are critical to habitat for a range of creatures and have other environmental benefits.

‘Push to fill the hole with soil,’ an announcer told the group.

‘You may immerse yourselves in the beauty of nature,’ she instructed.

Whitewash: Leaders wore matching white shirts for the event, although Biden opted for light blue. Many wore G20 ball caps

Cleanup: The leaders were provided white towels, an Indonesian custom 

All in line: The event came at a summit where Biden sought unity against Russia’s war on Ukraine

Russian leader Sergey Lavrov was not present for the ceremony, having already left

European Union President Ursula von Der Leyen, left, U.S. President Joe Biden, center, and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, listen to Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Widodo was kept waiting as Biden held an emergency meeting after the missile hit Poland

The event provided a respite to high-stakes diplomacy 

Security umbrella: Biden hosted key allies at his hotel in Bali following the strike

The president delivered remarks in response to the missile

Indonesian President Joko Widodo had to wait for the delayed event

Inch by inch: The saplings are part of an effort to restore mangrove forests, which provide carbon sequestration and protect aquatic species

The last day of the summit was punctuated by a missile explosion in Poland

The photo op also provided an opportunity for glad-handing among the leaders. The group toured the forest restoration project, with French President Emmanuel Macron leading the pack at times. 

Each participant was given a wet towel at one point, a welcoming Indonesian custom.

Biden walked toward the center of the group, sporting his trademark aviator sunglasses. He wore a blue dress shirt, having been photographed early Wednesday morning in short sleeves while conferring with national security advisor Jake Sullivan.

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