The G7 Meeting: Live Updates as World Leaders Meet on Security, Democracy

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will host a summit of G7 leaders at a Cornish seaside resort in June – the first face-to-face meeting in two years.Credit…Daniel Leal-Olivas/ Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to convene a video conference with leaders of the Group of Seven countries on Friday afternoon to discuss the transition to a post-Trump world and urge greater global support and coordination to provide vaccines against the coronavirus to billions of people in developing countries.

The conversation was part of a busy, if virtual, day of transatlantic diplomacy that included the international debut of President Biden, who was scheduled to deliver a foreign policy speech at the Munich Security Conference on Friday. Mr Johnson and a number of other European leaders also spoke.

Multilateral cooperation – on pandemics, climate change and the Iran nuclear deal – is likely to be a buzzword.

Regardless of their long-standing disagreements over Brexit or how to deal with Russia and China, Johnson and other European leaders are eager to take advantage of a U.S. president who is especially eager to depose the policies of his predecessor, Donald J. Trump.

On the phone, Mr Johnson had to promise that Britain would make surplus vaccines available for a distribution programme of doses in the developing world. It was expected that Biden would confirm that the United States would contribute $4 billion over a two-year period. Mr. Johnson had to seek commitments from other executives.

While Mr Biden is undoubtedly a star attraction, the video call was a prime opportunity for Mr Johnson, who came to power promising to take Britain out of the European Union in order to shape a post-Brexit identity for his country too.

Biden was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

In June, Johnson will host a summit of leaders at a resort in Cornwall, their first face-to-face meeting in two years. Last year, the United States chaired the G7 and was supposed to host the meeting, but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Even before the virus disrupts the meeting, Mr. Trump is making sure to displease him at home and abroad. Unlike other heads of state, he invited Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to attend. And he unleashed an internal political storm by chairing a summit at his Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.

Mr Trump backed down and moved the meeting to Camp David until it was completely wiped out. His advisers compounded the situation by insisting that climate change would have no place on the agenda during Mr Trump’s presidency.

Johnson, on the other hand, should have made climate change the main theme of Friday’s conference. The UK is also hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November. It has announced ambitious emissions reduction targets, which Johnson hopes will set the tone for the Glasgow conference.

U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Forum is expected to be wide-ranging, according to those who saw it…. in connection with Doug Mills/The New York Times.

As a senator and vice president, Joe Biden was one of the few in Washington who liked summits – and he was looking forward to the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of Europe’s diplomatic and military elite.

Two years ago, he even presented himself in Munich as a private citizen – who had already run for president – through the crowded hotel Bayerischer Hof, where the event is still held, and assured his allies that the era of the Trump presidency would one day be over.

There will be no joy when Friday returns because the event is virtual and Mr. Biden will speak via video link. But his message will be clear, council members said. The era of Trump diplomacy is over by default.

Despite all the violence and unrest that has shaken Washington in recent months, he wants to say that autocracies will never triumph over democracies and that restored alliances are the way for the West to regain its influence. He will punish China and warn Europe to crack down on Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia.

For Europeans, dealing with Mr. Biden is like putting on a pair of worn-out shoes – they know what that looks like. But Biden, as some of his associates admit, will also have to deal with more than a handful of skeptics who wonder whether his presidency will not be a brief interlude in the alliance’s favor and whether, in particular, the American era is over.

His speech at the Munich Security Forum was expected to be wide-ranging, those who saw it say. He says the United States and its European allies can confront China without descending into a Cold War and that the only way to deal with Russia is to push Mr. Putin away.

He will list the treaties and multinational agencies with which the United States has returned or re-engaged in recent weeks, from the Paris Agreement on climate change to the World Health Organization and Kovaks, a public-private initiative to distribute vaccines equitably around the world.

And Thursday night, just before the speech, the State Department released its first roadmap for resuming talks with Iran in four years. For the first time since early 2018, Europe and the United States were on the same page when it came to strategy towards Iran.

In public, all this is being applauded; European leaders, they say, are simply happy to be able to go to the meeting without fear of the United States suggesting that they are preparing to leave the NATO alliance.

But the Europeans, Biden’s advisers admit, do not share the same view of China and the threat posed by its economic dominance and political influence. And European countries’ dependence on Russian energy supplies limits their enthusiasm for joining Biden in declaring that Putin will pay the price for weakening democracies.

President Joe Biden, left, and Vice President Kamala Harris, right, listen to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s speech at the State Department in Washington this month. Credit … Stephanie Reynolds in the New York Times.

The United States on Friday officially joined the Paris Climate Accord, an international agreement designed to prevent catastrophic global warming.

President Biden said addressing the climate crisis is one of his top priorities, and he signed an executive order just hours after being sworn in last month reaffirming the U.S. commitment to the agreement.

This is a categorical refusal by the Trump administration, which withdrew the country from the treaty and seems intent on undermining environmental protection rules.

The Paris agreement provides an unprecedented framework for global action, Secretary of State Anthony J. Trump said in a statement Friday. We know this because we have contributed to its development and implementation.

With 189 countries joining the pact in 2016, it enjoys broad international support, and Biden’s decision to join the effort has been welcomed by foreign leaders.

Welcome to the Paris Agreement! Emmanuel Macron, the French president, said in a Twitter post at the time.

The inspiring message of the Paris climate agreement is that only global solidarity and collective action can prevent the devastating effects of climate change: rising temperatures, rising sea levels, more severe storms or droughts leading to food shortages.

President Biden announced a plan to spend $2 trillion over four years to increase the use of clean energy in the transportation, energy and construction sectors, rapidly moving away from coal, oil and gas. It set a goal of eliminating fossil fuel emissions from electricity production by 2035 and pledged to make the entire U.S. economy carbon neutral by mid-century.

Former President Trump announced in 2017 that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Agreement, but that withdrawal could not be officially implemented until November 4 of last year.

The United States formally terminated the agreement for 107 days.

Blinken said Friday that the fight against climate change will once again be at the top of the list of US domestic and foreign policy priorities.

Climate change and scientific diplomacy should never again be an appendage to our foreign policy discussions, Blinken said.

But, he added, as important as our entry into the agreement in 2016 – and as important as our reunification today – what we do in the coming weeks, months and years is even more important.

Since the beginning of the industrial age, the United States has emitted more greenhouse gases than any other country. So the way the United States uses its money and power has both symbolic and real implications for whether the estimated 7.6 billion people on this planet, especially the poorest, can avoid a climate catastrophe.

There are two immediate signs to look out for. First of all: How ambitious will the Biden administration be in its emissions reduction targets? It is under pressure from human rights groups to reduce emissions by 50% from 2005 levels by 2030.

And secondly: How much money will the United States allocate to help poor countries adapt to the scourge of global warming and make their economies less dependent on fossil fuels?

Answers to these two questions are expected in the coming weeks, just in time for the virtual climate summit on 22 December. April, which President Biden has said he will host.

President Biden gave a speech at the White House last month about responding to a pandemic. Credit…Doug Mills/New York Times

International efforts to accelerate the production and distribution of coronavirus vaccines around the world have gained momentum on two fronts : White House officials said the Biden administration will honor the U.S. commitment of $4 billion for the campaign over the next two years, and the pharmaceutical company Novavax has pledged to eventually sell 1.1 billion doses of its vaccine.

President Biden was expected to make his announcement Friday at a virtual meeting with other G-7 leaders, where he is also expected to call on other countries to increase their contributions. The $4 billion was approved by the Republican-led Senate last year, when President Donald J. Clinton and the GOP president’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFCS) approved a $4 billion bond. Trump was still in office.

Public health experts often say that if not everyone is vaccinated, it looks like no one is. An official who spoke anonymously with the president noted that it is also in the interest of U.S. international security to take steps to provide assistance abroad to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

Countries like India and China already use the coronavirus vaccine as a diplomatic tool; both countries dose other countries to increase their influence in the world. National security experts have stated that the United States should consider doing the same.

But according to the official, the United States will not be able to share vaccines now because the U.S. immunization campaign continues to expand.

The international vaccination effort, known as Covax, is led by a public-private health partnership called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, and the World Health Organization. The goal is to distribute vaccines deemed safe and effective by the World Health Organization, with an emphasis on low- and middle-income countries.

So far, the United States has pledged more than any other country, the White House said. Officials said the money would be paid in installments: an initial donation of $500 million immediately, followed soon by another $1.5 billion. By the end of 2022, $1.5 million will be paid out.

Novavax will not be released for sale immediately; the vaccine has not yet been approved by the state regulatory agency.

Under the terms of a letter of intent between Gavi and Novavax, the company agreed to supply a cumulative total of 1.1 billion doses, although no timetable was given.

Biden was not the only G7 member to call for greater contributions to the global immunization effort. French President Emmanuel Macron said the United States and Europe should provide up to 5% of their vaccine orders to developing countries.

We are allowing hundreds of millions of vaccines to be administered in rich countries and we are not starting in poor countries, Macron told the Financial Times.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also spoke of a very unequal and unfair distribution of vaccines. Speaking at a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, Guterres said the vaccine was the biggest moral test facing the global community.

He called on the G7 countries to build momentum at their meeting on Friday to mobilise the necessary financial resources.

French President Emmanuel Macron spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow.Credit…Photo by John McDougal in the pool

Two weeks after President Biden took office, his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, arguing that Russia was a part of Europe that could not be easily got rid of and that Europe needed to be strong enough to pursue its own interests.

The 30th. In December, a few weeks before the inauguration, the European Union struck a major investment deal with China, just days after Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan called for early consultations with Europe on China in a tweet and appeared to warn of an imminent deal.

As the United States recovers under the new White House leadership, Europe is charting its own course toward Russia and China in ways that may not necessarily match Biden’s goals, a challenge as the new U.S. president seeks to rebuild the post-Trump alliance with the continent.

In a speech at a Munich security conference two years ago, Biden lamented the damage the Trump administration has done to the once-strong postwar relationship between Washington and major European capitals. That too will pass, Biden said. We’ll be back. He promised that the United States would be back in control.

The president’s remarks on Friday will no doubt echo that promise and draw attention to his now familiar call for a more united Western front against the anti-democratic threats of Russia and China. In many ways, such a conversation is sure to be experienced as a warm massage by European leaders, who are shaken by four years of mercenary and often dismissive diplomacy from President Donald J. Trump.

But if by leadership Mr Biden means a return to the traditional American premise – we decide and you follow – then many Europeans feel that there is no more peace and that Europe should not behave like the subordinate wing of the Americans in the battles determined by Washington.

As evidenced by the European Union’s trade agreement with China and the conciliatory rhetoric about Moscow from leaders like Macron and the next German chancellor, Armin Lasche, Europe has its own interests and ideas about how to deal with the United States’ two biggest rivals, which will complicate Biden’s diplomacy.

Biden points to an incredibly hawkish approach to Russia, equating it with China and defining a new global Cold War against authoritarian regimes, said Jeremy Shapiro, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

This makes many European politicians nervous, he said. And other regional experts said they saw fewer signs of visible enthusiasm on the continent than Biden administration officials might have expected.

It’s always been clear that we can’t just show up and say: Hey guys, we’re back, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was a candidate for the post of director of the National Security Council of Russia but did not take it for personal reasons.

Iran’s economy has been hit hard by Trump Era sanctions, and Tehran is pushing for them to be lifted before negotiations…Credit…Majid Asgharipour/Vana, via Reuters

On the eve of a virtual summit of world leaders on Friday, the United States took a major step toward restoring the Iran nuclear deal that the Trump administration had rejected, offering to join European countries in what would be the first substantive diplomacy with Tehran in more than four years, Biden administration officials said.

In a series of measures to fulfill one of the key promises of President Biden’s campaign, the administration also backtracked on the Trump administration’s efforts to restore UN sanctions on Iran. These efforts have divided Washington with its European allies.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told European foreign ministers by phone Thursday morning that the United States will work with them to try to restore the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which he said is one of the major achievements of multilateral diplomacy.

A few hours later, the European Union’s Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Enrique Mora, appealed to the original parties to the nuclear deal – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – to save it at a critical moment.

Intense talks with all parties and the United States, Mora said on Twitter. I am willing to invite them to an informal meeting to discuss the way forward.

While it is unclear whether the Iranians are willing to participate in the talks, three people familiar with the internal debate said Iran is likely to agree. Officials said Iran would likely be more open to a meeting with the European Union to which the United States would be invited or an observer than to direct official talks with Washington as a participant.

In recent days, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani have indicated that they are open to talks on some sort of synchronized approach in which both sides act on a given day. A senior US official said the White House had been contacted and noted that in this way important steps were being coordinated to implement the original 2015 agreement.

But with four months to go until Iran’s presidential election, it is not clear whether the country’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his political and military leaders are fully behind renewed cooperation with the United States.

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