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Joe Biden affirm special relationship at G7 meeting with Johnson
Joe Biden has issued a statement pledging to affirm his “special relationship” with Britain when he meets Boris Johnson at this week’s G7 summit in the UK and discuss matters including the impasse in Northern Ireland.
In an article for the Washington Post published on Sunday before his first foreign travel trip as president, Biden wrote: “In the United Kingdom, after meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson to affirm the special relationship between our nations, I will participate in the G7 summit.
“This group of leading democracies and economies has not met in person in two years due to the coronavirus. Ending this pandemic, improving health security for all nations and driving a robust, inclusive global economic recovery will be our top priorities.”
Biden added that he will use his time during the summit to realise “America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners”, and “rally the world’s democracies” against the most significant threats of the world, including the pandemic and climate change.
The US president is also reportedly expected to speak to Johnson about current disagreements over the Brexit deal, expressing support for its Northern Ireland protocol, which has met fierce opposition from unionists and loyalists who say it separates the region from the rest of the UK.
Joe Biden to affirm “special relationship’ at G7 meeting with Johnson
President also expected to discuss post-Brexit difficulties in Northern Ireland with the prime minister
The Times reported that Biden is expected to tell Johnson that the US sees the protocol as a crucial part of maintaining long-term peace in Northern Ireland and, in particular, the Good Friday agreement, for which the US is a guarantor.
The paper cited sources saying that Biden is expected to warn the prime minister that a potential trade deal between the US and the UK will be damaged if the situation is not resolved, while also telling leaders in Brussels that he expects the EU to be more “flexible” and less “bureaucratic”.
Biden, who is of Irish descent, reaffirmed his support for the Good Friday agreement in March after tensions over the protocol led to violent rioting. The protocol was initially set up to prevent a hard land border in Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland inside the single market.
Biden and his wife, Jill, are due to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle on Sunday 13 June, Buckingham Palace announced earlier, to coincide with the end of the G7 summit.
World leaders gear up for ‘most important G7 in history’
G7 leaders face three busy days of talks when they gather in Britain next weekend for their first in-person summit since the start of the pandemic.
Leaders of wealthy countries face widespread calls to distribute Covid-19 vaccines around the world and to set ambitious targets on climate change in the run-up to November’s Cop26 summit in Glasgow.
“Many in the global health world are seeing this as the most important G7 in its entire history,” said Robert Yates, the head of Chatham House’s global health programme, at an event hosted by the think tank this week.
“There really is the potential for G7 leaders to do something very dramatic and appear as superheroes to save the world.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to use the June 11-13 summit in Cornwall, England, as a chance to show British leadership in the wake of Brexit.
As well as the G7 nations – the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Japan – the talks will be attended by the EU and guest nations Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa.
Some of the proposals on trade and global finance would require G20 approval to become reality, but experts say the summit between like-minded democracies can provide momentum on global issues.
“What the G7 has got a lot of is power and money and resources,” Mr Yates said. “Because it’s a smaller club, they have got a greater ability to come to a consensus and get on with it.”
Solidarity: Biden looks to mend ties
US President Joe Biden is on his first foreign trip after taking office with a vow to mend transatlantic ties after four tumultuous years of Donald Trump.
Before the G7 begins, Mr Biden will hold bilateral talks with Mr Johnson on Thursday to “affirm the enduring strength of the special relationship”.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is attending his first G7 meeting, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her last.
Renata Dwan, deputy director of Chatham House, said all G7 leaders had an interest in the summit being productive.
“The UK wants a success. Boris Johnson wants a success. The US wants to say theUS is back on the multilateral stage,” she said.
“So, for a whole set of reasons … everyone has an interest in making it look like a success.”
She said the desire for solidarity could mean a “massaging of difficult issues” such as the recent Israel-Palestine crisis.
“The Middle East is never an issue on which it’s easy for unity,” she said. “Frankly, there’s no new initiative on the agenda for Israel-Palestine in the G7.”
Vaccines: G7 under pressure to share doses
While rich countries such as the UK and US forged ahead with successful vaccination programmes against Covid-19, access to the shots is limited for much of the developing world.
The World Health Organisation say people in low-income countries have received fewer than one per cent of the 700 million doses administered worldwide.
The leaders of international bodies including the WHO and World Bank this week issued a call for G7 leaders to donate more vaccine doses and provide technical expertise to expand vaccine production.
There are also calls to suspend intellectual property rights on vaccines, an idea supported by the US but opposed by Germany.
Echoing WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Mr Yates said rich countries should be donating vaccines instead of giving them to children at home.
He warned G7 leaders not to focus excessively on future pandemic preparations instead of ending the current crisis.
“In terms of what they ought to be talking about, it’s ending this current pandemic as quickly as possible for all our benefits,” he said.
“The big message for leaders, economists and heads of government is they need to spend more money on health.”
Climate change: Britain eyes ambitious targets
The UK is hoping to use its twin presidency of the G7 and Cop26 to drive ambitious global action on climate change.
Britain wants countries to come forward with new targets to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Tim Benton, head of Chatham House’s environment programme, said he expected talks on how to promote greater ambition from the G7 and guests, including Australia.
“They key thing is for this to be trumpeting the fact that Cop is the big moment,” he said.
Ms Dwan said she was watching for an agreement on ending international financial support on coal production.
A summit of G7 environment ministers last month ended with a commitment to “rapidly scale up technologies and policies” to phase out coal.
Meanwhile, G7 health ministers this week discussed how better monitoring of animal and environmental health could help avert the danger of a future pandemic.
Experts say that protecting wildlife and biodiversity can reduce the threat of dangerous new diseases emerging from the animal world.
Finance: Global tax deal in sight
G7 finance ministers were meeting on Friday and Saturday and aiming for a deal on global taxation.
Washington supports a global minimum corporate tax rate that would prevent companies such as tech giants from manipulating the system.
It would also bring in much-needed government revenue after the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
However, an expert told The National this week that even if G7 leaders signed off an agreement, significant hurdles would still be in place.
“They would all have to put it into legislation in Japan and Canada and the US and UK and so on, so that’s going to be a long process with lots of nuances involved,” said Patrick Holden of the University of Plymouth in England.
The minimum tax rate is one of two pillars in efforts at global finance reforms, along with a “digital tax” that would allow countries to bill multinationals with headquarters overseas.
Britain wants such firms to pay taxes that reflect where they make their sales, not where they have their headquarters or book their profits.
But the US wants an end to the digital services taxes levied by Britain, France and Italy, which it views as unfairly targeting American tech giants.
Security: Warning over hostility with China
G7 foreign ministers held three days of talks on security and foreign policy last month during which they discussed Iran, Syria and Libya among other issues.
Ministers said they were committed to ensuring that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon and welcomed talks on the matter taking place in Vienna.
While the UK emphasised the G7’s role as a club of democracies, experts said leaders would not necessarily put up a united front against China.
“The question is – is the G7 an anti-China tool, is the G7 a China containment initiative?” Ms Dwan said.
“The G7 are not necessarily united in their approach to China and in how to respond to China. The tone on Russia, for example, is much more clear.”
Mr Yates warned that a confrontational attitude to China could affect the world’s access to Chinese-made vaccines, which are going towards the global Covax scheme.
“In the short and medium term, we really do need the collaboration of the Chinese in producing vaccines,” he said.
Any confrontational approach with the Chinese was to be avoided "at all costs", he said.
Statement by Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Updates to the President’s Travel to the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Switzerland
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will travel to the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Switzerland in June 2021. This will be the first overseas travel by President Biden, who will be joined by First Lady Jill Biden for the stops in the United Kingdom as previously announced. This trip will highlight America’s commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the Transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests.
President Biden will meet British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on June 10 to affirm the enduring strength of the special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. President Biden will attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K., which is happening from June 11-13, where he will reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key U.S. policy priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies. He will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders.
On June 13, the President and Dr. Biden will meet Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at Windsor Castle. Dr. Biden will return to the United States following this meeting.
From the United Kingdom, President Biden will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will participate in the NATO Summit on June 14. President Biden will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, Transatlantic security, and collective defense. NATO leaders will discuss how to orient the Alliance to future threats and ensure effective burden sharing. The President will also meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the full range of bilateral and regional issues.
While in Brussels President Biden will participate in the U.S.–EU Summit on June 15, which will underscore our commitment to a strong Transatlantic partnership based on shared interests and values. The leaders will discuss a common agenda to ensure global health security, stimulate global economic recovery, tackle climate change, enhance digital and trade cooperation, strengthen democracy, and address mutual foreign policy concerns. President Biden will also meet with His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.
As previously announced, President Biden will then travel to Geneva, Switzerland where he will hold a bilateral summit with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin on June 16. While in Geneva President Biden will also meet with Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis.