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.
World leaders gear up for ‘most important G7 in history’
“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.”
Before the G7 begins, Mr Biden will hold bilateral talks with Mr Johnson on Thursday to “affirm the enduring strength of the special relationship”.
“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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
Meanwhile, G7 health ministers this week discussed how better monitoring of animal and environmental health could help avert the danger of a future pandemic.
Finance: Global tax deal in sight
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.
Britain wants such firms to pay taxes that reflect where they make their sales, not where they have their headquarters or book their profits.
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.
“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.
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.