Joe Biden (left) poses for a photo with Boris Johnson, during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall. AP
G7 leaders on Friday open a three-day summit aimed at helping to end the Covid-19 pandemic and forge a climate-centric economic recovery, after pledging to donate one billion vaccine doses for the world's poorest countries.
Vaccine sharing commitments from President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the stage for the G-7 leaders' meeting in southwest England, where leaders will pivot Friday from opening greetings and a "family photo” directly into a session on "Building Back Better From COVID-19,” according to The Associated Press.
"We’re going to help lead the world out of this pandemic working alongside our global partners,” Biden said, adding that the G-7 nations would join the U.S. in outlining their vaccine donation commitments at the three-day summit. The G-7 also includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
US President Joe Biden and his colleagues from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan will sit down for their first face-to-face gathering in nearly two years, after the pandemic wiped out last year's summit.
Yoshihide Suga arrives at Newquay Airport in Cornwall, England, to attend the G7 Summit on Friday. AP
Meeting under the protection of a smothering security operation in the Cornish resort of Carbis Bay, southwest England, the leaders are also expected to address warnings to Russia and China.
Most of the G7 heads of state and government will reconvene on Monday in Brussels for a NATO meeting, before Biden heads on to his first summit with President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, vowing to deliver a blunt appraisal of Russian behaviour, according to AFP.
After arriving in Britain Wednesday on his first foreign tour as president, Biden told US service personnel that "the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together", following the tumult of his predecessor Donald Trump's go-it-alone administration.
The G7's host, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the coronavirus outbreak originating in China had also "badly shaken" the international order.
"At Carbis Bay, we must put those days behind us," he said in a pre-summit message.
Justin Trudeau arrives ahead of the G7 meeting at Cornwall airport in Newquay, Cornwall, Britain. Reuters
"This is the moment for the world's greatest and most technologically advanced democracies to shoulder their responsibilities and to vaccinate the world, because no one can be properly protected until everyone has been protected."
It represents a potential win for the Biden administration, which has proposed a global minimum tax as a way to pay for infrastructure projects, in addition to creating an alternative that could remove some European countries’ digital services taxes that largely hit U.S. tech firms.
For Johnson, the first G-7 summit in two years - last year's was scuttled by the pandemic - is a chance to set out his vision of a post-Brexit "Global Britain” as a midsized country with an outsized role in international problem-solving.
It's also an opportunity to underscore the UK-US bond, an alliance often called the "special relationship.”
Emmanuel Macron speaks during a news conference ahead of the G7 Summit in Paris on Thursday. Reuters
After a meeting with Biden that both sides hailed as a success, Johnson said he prefers the term "indestructible relationship.”
The G-7 leaders have faced mounting pressure to outline their global vaccine-sharing plans, especially as inequities in supply around the world have become more pronounced. In the US, there is a large vaccine stockpile and the demand for shots has dropped precipitously in recent weeks.
Biden said the US will donate 500 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and previewed a coordinated effort by the advanced economies to make vaccination widely and speedily available everywhere. The commitment was on top of 80 million doses Biden has already pledged to donate by the end of June.
A year into the pandemic, infection rates are falling. Hospitals are quieter; morgues are emptier. Emboldened by vaccines, we’re dropping our masks and stepping closer. Slowly we’re reopening indoor dining, theaters, museums and schools.
Several European countries resumed AstraZeneca vaccinations as Germany and Italy announced they were using the jab again as of Friday.
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