Biden And Johnson Cement ‘Special Relationship’ Cracking Jokes During G7 Summit Video Meeting.
US PRESIDENT Joe Biden and UK PM Boris Johnson convened a video call of the leaders of the Group of 7 nations on Friday afternoon and pushed for greater global support and coordination to deliver coronavirus vaccines to billions of people in developing countries. The PM joked with the US President over shared campaign slogans and hailed America’s return to the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
The call was part of a busy if virtual, day of trans-Atlantic diplomacy that also featured the international debut of President Biden, who was set to deliver a foreign-policy address to the Munich Security Conference on Friday. Mr Johnson and several other European leaders were also lined up to speak.
Multilateral cooperation — on the pandemic, climate change, and the Iran nuclear deal — was likely to be a priority.
Whatever their lingering differences over Brexit or how to handle Russia and China, Mr Johnson and other European leaders are eager to take advantage of an American president who wants to banish the “America First” policy of his predecessor, Donald J. Trump.
On the call, Mr Johnson pledged that Britain would donate surplus supplies of vaccines to a program that will distribute doses in the developing world. Mr Biden also confirmed that the United States will donate $4 (€3.3) billion to that effort over two years.
But even as the leaders pledged international cooperation, they faced very difficult situations at home. Mr Johnson acknowledged as much in the video call, noting Mr Biden’s slogan — “Build Back Better” — had a familiar ring.
“I think he may have nicked it from us,” Mr Johnson said laughing, “but I certainly nicked it from somewhere else — probably some U.N. disaster relief program.”
While Mr Biden is clearly the star attraction, the video call was a major opportunity for Mr Johnson, who vaulted himself into power by promising to deliver Britain’s departure from the European Union, to fashion a post-Brexit identity for his country as well.
In addition to Mr Biden, the callers included Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.
Mr Johnson will play host to a summit meeting of the leaders in June at a seaside resort in Cornwall, in what would be their first face-to-face meeting in two years. The United States chaired the Group of 7 last year and was scheduled to host the meeting, but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.
Even before the virus disrupted the gathering, Mr Trump’s handling of it sowed dissent at home and abroad. He antagonized other leaders by inviting President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to attend. And he kicked up a domestic political storm by steering the summit to his Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami.
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