G7 leaders to tackle climate, COVID, challenges from China, Russia
Climate change and COVID-19 are expected topics as members of the Group of Seven, or G7, meet in person for the first time since the pandemic’s onset. The heads of state of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States will convene June 11-13, 2021, in Cornwall, England.
“Next week, the leaders of the world’s greatest democracies will gather at an historic moment for our countries and for the planet. The world is looking to us to rise to the greatest challenge of the post-war era: defeating COVID and leading a global recovery driven by our shared values,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a statement on the G7 website. “Vaccinating the world by the end of next year would be the greatest single feat in medical history. I’m calling on my fellow G7 leaders to join us to end this terrible pandemic and pledge we will never allow the devastation wreaked by coronavirus to happen again.”
Diplomats said that the leaders also will discuss how to engage with China and Russia, Reuters reported. China is the world’s second-largest economy but has never been a G7 member. Russia was admitted as a G8 member after the fall of the Soviet Union but was suspended in 2014 after annexing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, according to Reuters.
Discussions on Russia will be of particular interest because U.S. President Joe Biden, attending the G7 on his first international trip since his January 2021 inauguration, plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin after the G7 talks. “What we are looking to do is for the two presidents to be able to send a clear signal … to their teams on questions of strategic stability so we can make progress on arms control and other nuclear areas to reduce tension and instability in that aspect of their relationship,” U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said during a news briefing, according to CNN.
President Biden detailed his expectations in an opinion published June 5 in The Washington Post newspaper.
“When I meet with Vladimir Putin in Geneva, it will be after high-level discussions with friends, partners and allies who see the world through the same lens as the United States, and with whom we have renewed our connections and shared purpose,” President Biden wrote. “We are standing united to address Russia’s challenges to European security, starting with its aggression in Ukraine, and there will be no doubt about the resolve of the United States to defend our democratic values, which we cannot separate from our interests.”
President Biden’s vision aligns with priorities outlined by the U.K. as president of the G7. The G7 policy priorities include actions to “build back better.” Among them:
- Lead the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics.
- Promote future prosperity by championing free and fair trade.
- Tackle climate change and preserve the planet’s biodiversity.
- Champion shared values.
President Biden intends to use the talks in Europe to strengthen relationships and highlight the U.S. commitment to engage and collaborate with like-minded allies and partners.
“In this moment of global uncertainty, as the world still grapples with a once-in-a-century pandemic, this trip is about realizing America’s renewed commitment to our allies and partners, and demonstrating the capacity of democracies to both meet the challenges and deter the threats of this new age,” President Biden wrote in The Washington Post. “Whether it is ending the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere, meeting the demands of an accelerating climate crisis, or confronting the harmful activities of the governments of China and Russia, the United States must lead the world from a position of strength.”
Now is the time for world leaders to come together and prove that they can put aside differences for the good of humanity and the planet, according to President Biden.
“This is a defining question of our time: Can democracies come together to deliver real results for our people in a rapidly changing world? Will the democratic alliances and institutions that shaped so much of the last century prove their capacity against modern-day threats and adversaries?” President Biden wrote. “I believe the answer is yes. And this week in Europe, we have the chance to prove it.”
IMAGE CREDIT: ISTOCK