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Biden and the G7: Live Updates


A U.S. official said that a solo press conference by President Biden would be “the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press” after meeting President Vladimir V. Putin next week.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

After President Biden meets his Russian counterpart on Wednesday, the two men will not face the press at a joint news conference, United States officials said on Saturday.

Instead, Mr. Biden will face the press by himself after two private sessions with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, a move designed to deny the Russian leader an international platform like the one he received during a 2018 summit in Helsinki with President Donald J. Trump.

“We expect this meeting to be candid and straightforward, and a solo press conference is the appropriate format to clearly communicate with the free press the topics that were raised in the meeting,” a U.S. official said in a statement sent to reporters, “both in terms of areas where we may agree and in areas where we have significant concerns.”

Top aides to Mr. Biden said that during negotiations over the meetings, to be held at an 18th-century Swiss villa on the shores of Lake Geneva, the Russian government was eager to have Mr. Putin join Mr. Biden in a news conference. But Biden administration officials said that they were mindful of how Mr. Putin seemed to get the better of Mr. Trump in Helsinki.

At that news conference, Mr. Trump publicly accepted Mr. Putin’s assurances that his government did not interfere with the 2016 election, taking the Russian president’s word rather than the assessments of his own intelligence officials.

The spectacle in 2018 drew sharp condemnations from across the political spectrum for providing an opportunity for Mr. Putin to spread falsehoods. Senator John McCain at the time called it “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Mr. Putin has had a long and contentious relationship with United States presidents, who have sought to maintain relations with Russia even as the two nations clashed over nuclear weapons, aggression toward Ukraine and, more recently, cyberattacks and hacking.

President Barack Obama met several times with Mr. Putin, including at a joint appearance during the 2013 Group of 8 summit in Northern Ireland. Mr. Obama came under criticism at the time from rights groups for giving Mr. Putin a platform and for not challenging the Russian president more directly on human rights.

In the summer of 2001 — before the Sept. 11 terror attacks — President George W. Bush held a joint news conference with Mr. Putin at a summit in Slovenia. At the news conference, Mr. Bush famously said: “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

At the time, then-Senator Biden said: “I don’t trust Mr. Putin; hopefully the president was being stylistic rather than substantive.”

Biden administration officials said on Saturday that the two countries were continuing to finalize the format for the meeting on Wednesday with Mr. Putin. They said that the current plan called for a working session involving top aides in addition to the two leaders, and a smaller session.

The Group of 7 leaders, including President Biden, will take up more serious work this weekend after a Friday reception with Queen Elizabeth II in Cornwall, England, and several photo opportunities with the group.
Credit…Pool photo by Jack Hill

The Group of 7 leaders reach the heart of their annual summit meeting on Saturday, with the pandemic, climate change, China and Russia likely to be on the agenda at their gathering in Cornwall, England.

The formal topics of the day’s three scheduled sessions — economic resilience, foreign policy and health — reveal only so much. Each topic is broad enough to cover a wide array of issues, and each player has an agenda for steering those discussions.

Later in the day, the leaders are expected to sign a declaration on global health and commit resources to ensuring that the economic and human toll of the coronavirus pandemic is never repeated. The Carbis Bay declaration, named for the location of the summit, is described by the organizers as a “historic statement setting out a series of concrete commitments to prevent any repeat of the human and economic devastation wreaked by coronavirus.”

Often the most important talks are private and informal encounters in the spaces between the big gatherings — the kind of face-to-face diplomacy President Biden relishes. He would like to corral the others behind a tough approach to China, politically and commercially, but that will be a hard sell for some of them, who aren’t as worried as American policymakers about Beijing’s rising power.

To varying degrees, the member nations, all large wealthy democracies, will be looking to create a united front on tackling the world’s biggest issues. That unity was notably lacking under President Donald J. Trump, who disdained traditional allies and alliances, opposed efforts to fight global warming, was protectionist on trade, wanted a harder stance on China than the other members and wanted to go easier on Russia.

Now, under Mr. Biden, the biggest and most powerful member of the club has moved back toward consensus positions, though conflicts remain. He has rejoined the Paris climate agreement, European and American negotiators are close to resolving trade and tariff disputes, and the G7 nations — the United States, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Canada and Britain, this year’s host country — and the European Union have made major commitments to increasing supplies of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries.

The G7 meeting began on Friday, though much of the day was spent in formalities like a reception and dinner with Queen Elizabeth II and other members of Britain’s royal family. In addition to the seven national leaders, by tradition the top European Union officials, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, are also taking part.

The host country can invite other countries and international organizations to take part as guests, and some of this year’s sessions will include the leaders of India, South Korea, South Africa and Australia, as well as Secretary-General António Guterres of the United Nations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India is expected to take part remotely.

Melinda French Gates, a co-chair of the Gates Foundation, and Patrick Vallance, the British government’s chief science adviser, are expected to address the health session virtually.

In the evening, the leaders and their guests will have a steak and lobster barbecue dinner on the beach, followed by hot buttered rum and toasted marshmallows.

Commuters this month in New Delhi, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Leaders at the Group of 7 summit hope to blunt the impact of future outbreaks with additional resources.
Credit…Atul Loke for The New York Times

After more than a year of coronavirus-induced human hardship and economic woes, the leaders gathered at the Group of 7 summit on Saturday are expected to sign a declaration on global health aimed and ensuring that the pandemic’s toll is never repeated.

The Carbis Bay declaration, named for the summit’s location in southwestern England, is described by the organizers as a “historic statement setting out a series of concrete commitments to prevent any repeat of the human and economic devastation wreaked by coronavirus.”

It is one of a series of actions taken during the G7 in response to the pandemic, which has dominated the summit’s agenda much in the way it has loomed over most major events of the last year. Leaders will hold a session on health on Saturday afternoon in which they plan to discuss taking a shared approach to the pandemic and to agree on the declaration.

It maps out plans for committing resources to reducing to under 100 days the time it takes to develop and license vaccines and diagnostics for future diseases. And it includes a commitment to reinforcing global surveillance networks and genomic sequencing capacity and to support reforming and strengthening the World Health Organization, according to the G7 organizers.

Tedros Adhanom, the W.H.O.’s director general, said before the formal signing that his organization welcomed the move.

“Together we need to build on the significant scientific and collaborative response to the Covid-19 pandemic and find common solutions to address many of the gaps identified,” he said in a statement, noting that the world needed a stronger global surveillance system to more quickly detect the risks of pandemics.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, left, during the 2019 Group of 7 gathering in Canada.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

While many things have changed since the last in-person meeting of Group of 7 leaders, from a pandemic to a new United States president, one thing remains the same: Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany is the only woman among the leaders of the Group of 7 member nations gathered to discuss the most pressing global issues.

Ms. Merkel, Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May of Britain, and Kim Campbell, who briefly served as Canada’s prime minister, are the only four women ever to have taken part in the summit as leaders of member countries, and with Ms. Merkel stepping down this year, there might be none in 2022.

An absence of gender diversity doesn’t end at the G7, of course. Just 22 countries currently have a female head of government or head of state — an underrepresentation that risks further marginalization of issues including gender equality.

Despite the paucity of female leadership, the G7 has made gender equality one of the five central themes of this year’s summit, as it has in years past. A new independent Gender Equality Advisory Council was formed to set out recommendations on how G7 nations should work together to ensure that women around the world are at the forefront as the group maps out a plan for pandemic recovery.

And Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission president, is taking part in this year’s gathering as a leader of the European Union.

Writing this week in The Independent newspaper, Jess Philips, a British lawmaker and advocate for women’s rights, urged “that the specific problems faced by women must not be forgotten when the world’s leaders gather.”

“We are a long way away from there being enough women in that particular room,” she wrote. “So all we can do is bang a drum outside and ask them not to forget us when they talk about recovery and our world’s future.”

Protesters in Genoa, Italy, during the 2001 summit, when the diplomatic gathering was known as the Group of 8 and also included Russia.
Credit…Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Group of 7 summits like the one taking place in southwestern England this week once drew large protests.

In 1998, 70,000 people formed a human chain that ringed the city center of Birmingham, England, where President Bill Clinton and other leaders were meeting. In 2001 in Italy, more than 200,000 demonstrators massed at the Group of 7 in Genoa, setting off clashes with the police. In 2007 in Germany, protesters leaped out of the woods in black hoods and bandannas to hurl tree limbs across road to block access to the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm.

Yet since then, the summit’s organizers have become much more effective at putting distance between activists and the leaders.

Mustering anger is also not easy when Covid restrictions make it difficult to mobilize large crowds, security cordons keep protesters miles away from where the leaders are staying, and one of the prime antagonists at such gatherings, President Donald J. Trump, has been replaced by the more emollient President Biden.

The airtight security presence has not deterred activists from creatively dramatizing their causes. Among the most striking examples is “Mount Recyclemore,” a tribute to the carved granite heads of Mount Rushmore composed of discarded circuit boards, laptop covers and castoff cellphone pieces, along with a floating blimp that caricatures Mr. Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain.

But it all shows how challenging it is to be an activist at the G7 this year.

Will people in Britain soon be back in fully packed pubs, or will the Delta coronavirus variant mean an extensions of restrictions beyond June 21? 
Credit…Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Even as the Group of 7 announced during its summit this week that its member nations would donate one billion coronavirus vaccine doses to poorer nations, the gathering’s host country, Britain, is facing a reminder that it isn’t out of the woods yet on the pandemic either.

The news media call June 21 “freedom day” — the fast approaching moment when England’s remaining coronavirus restrictions are scheduled to be cast off, allowing pubs to fill to capacity, nightclubs to open their doors and the curtain to rise in theaters around the country.

But a recent spike in cases of the highly transmissible coronavirus variant called Delta has prompted such alarm among scientists and health professionals that the country now seems destined to wait a little longer for its liberty.

For Prime Minister Boris Johnson, oft accused of doing too little, too late to combat the virus, the stakes are high. The question is not so much whether to postpone “freedom day,” but to what degree. Four weeks seems to be the maximum under consideration, with some advocating a limited version of the full opening and others favoring a two-week delay.

An announcement on the next steps is scheduled for Monday, and Mr. Johnson planned to study the data this weekend. But many health professionals have already made up their minds over the seriousness of the threat from the Delta variant, first detected in India.

The concern is that a surge of cases caused by the new variant could translate into a sharper uptick in hospitalizations and risk the virus once again overwhelming the National Health Service.

World leaders at a Group of 7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August 2019, the last time the gathering was held in person.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

For three days, beginning Friday, some of the world’s most powerful leaders are descending on a small Cornish village for a series of meetings as part of the Group of 7 summit, which brings together the heads of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

So what exactly is the G7, and why does it matter?

The nations belonging to the club are the world’s wealthiest large democracies, close allies and major trading partners that account for about half of the global economy.

With broadly similar views on trade, political pluralism, security and human rights, they can — when they agree — wield enormous collective influence. Their heads of government meet, along with representatives of the European Union, to discuss economic issues and major international policies.

Those attending this years’ gathering include leaders from the G7 member countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — plus the European Union, guests Australia, South Africa and South Korea, along with India via video link.

The group, whose origins go back to the 1973 oil crisis, grew out of an informal gathering of finance ministers from Britain, the United States, France, Japan and what was then West Germany — initially known as the Big Five — as they tried to agree on a way forward.

Since the 1970s, the group and its later additional members have met dozens of times to work on major global issues that affect the international economy, security, trade, equality and climate change. In 2015, the summit paved the way for the Paris agreement to limit global emissions, which was decided later that year.

For a time, the group had eight members — remember the G8? — but Russia, always something of an outlier, was kicked out in 2014 amid international condemnation of President Vladimir V. Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Last year, President Donald J. Trump said he believed Russia should be reinstated.

Atop the agenda this year will be the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the global economy, with a focus on worldwide recovery and vaccination.

This summit, hosted by Britain, which currently holds the group’s presidency, is the 47th of its kind and will continue through Sunday. Last year’s summit was canceled because of the pandemic, making this gathering the first in-person G7 Leaders’ Summit in almost two years. The last was in August 2019 in Biarritz, France.

The agreement reached by Group of 7 finance ministers and other prominent officials would impose an additional tax on some of the largest multinational companies.
Credit…Pool photo by Henry Nicholls

When the top economic officials from the world’s advanced economies, in the days leading up to the Group of 7 summit, unveiled a broad agreement that aims to stop large multinational companies from seeking out tax havens and force them to pay more of their income to governments, it was a breakthrough in a yearslong efforts to overhaul international tax laws.

A new global minimum tax rate at least 15 percent, which finance leaders from the Group of 7 countries agreed to back, would apply to companies regardless of where they locate their headquarters.

The agreement would also impose an additional tax on some of the largest multinational companies, potentially forcing technology giants like Amazon, Facebook and Google as well as other big global businesses to pay taxes to countries based on where their goods or services are sold, regardless of whether they have a physical presence in that nation.

The pact could reshape global commerce and solidify public finances that have been eroded after more than a year of combating the pandemic.

And huge sums of money are at stake. A report this month from the E.U. Tax Observatory estimated that a 15 percent minimum tax would yield an additional 48 billion euros, or $58 billion, a year. The Biden administration projected in its budget last month that the new global minimum tax system could help bring in $500 billion in tax revenue over a decade to the United States.

While the agreement is a major step forward, many challenges remain. Next month, the Group of 7 countries must sell the concept to finance ministers from the broader Group of 20 nations. If that is successful, officials hope that a final deal can be signed in October.

Garnering wider support will not be easy. Ireland, which has a tax rate of 12.5 percent, argues that a global minimum tax would be disruptive to the country’s economic model. Some major countries such as China are considered unlikely to buy in.

And the biggest obstacle come from the United States. The Biden administration must win approval from a narrowly divided Congress to make changes to the tax code.

President Biden with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain before their meeting on Thursday.
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

President Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain signed a new version of the 80-year-old Atlantic Charter on Thursday, using their first meeting to redefine the Western alliance and accentuate what they said was a growing divide between battered democracies and their autocratic rivals, led by Russia and China.

The two leaders unveiled the new charter as they sought to focus the world’s attention on emerging threats from cyber attacks, the Covid-19 pandemic that has upended the global economy, and climate change, using language about reinforcing NATO and international institutions that Mr. Biden hoped would make clear that the Trump era of America First was over.

The new charter, a 604-word declaration, was an effort to stake out a grand vision for global relationships in the 21st century, just as the original, first drafted by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a declaration of a Western commitment to democracy and territorial integrity just months before the United States entered World War II.

“It was a statement of first principles, a promise that the United Kingdom and the United States would meet the challenges of their age and that we’d meet it together,” Mr. Biden said after his private meeting with Mr. Johnson. “Today, we build on that commitment, with a revitalized Atlantic Charter, updated to reaffirm that promise while speaking directly to the key challenges of this century.”

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