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Distributing vaccines at top of G-7 summit agenda

by JILL LAWLESS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | June 11, 2021 at 4:10 a.m.
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron attends a meeting with NGO representatives ahead of the G7 Summit, at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (Pascal Rossignol/Pool via AP, File)

FALMOUTH, England -- As British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts U.S. President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwest England, pandemic recovery -- and getting vaccines to billions who lack them -- is at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven meeting.

The summit is seen as a major test for Johnson, a divisive leader at home and abroad whose two years in office have been dominated by the consecutive crises of Brexit and the pandemic.

For a setting, Johnson has chosen the rugged county of Cornwall, at England's southwestern tip -- a region that combines natural beauty with a cluster of innovative tech and ecology businesses. It's also one of England's poorest regions, where wealthy second-home owners have made housing unaffordable for many local people.

The leaders will visit the Eden Project, a pioneering eco-tourism site built in a former quarry pit, and will enjoy ethically sourced food made by local chefs. There's even a beach barbecue complete with toasted marshmallows, hot buttered rum and a performance by a sea shanty troupe.

[CORONAVIRUS: Click here for our complete coverage » arkansasonline.com/coronavirus]

Johnson's eve-of-summit meeting with Biden on Thursday was a chance to underscore the trans-Atlantic alliance and to set out his vision of a post-Brexit "Global Britain" as a midsized country with an outsized role in international problem-solving.

That may be a challenge, given the distrust in European capitals and Washington surrounding the U.K.'s decision to leave the EU and the messy process of separation.

Biden once called the blustering Johnson a "clone" of former President Donald Trump and has expressed repeated concern about the destabilizing effect of Brexit on Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that borders the bloc.

But after a meeting between the two that lasted well over an hour, Johnson described the new president as "a breath of fresh air." Biden said the meeting had been "very productive."

Johnson said protecting the Northern Ireland peace agreement was "absolutely common ground" among Britain, the U.S. and the European Union. That may be, but EU leaders are furious at what they see as the U.K.'s failure to implement the divorce deal that Johnson agreed to.

French President Emmanuel Macron warned Thursday that the Brexit agreement signed by Britain and the EU was not up for renegotiation.

Before the pandemic, Johnson planned this to be a climate-dominated summit. He had wanted to make it a major staging post to November's international COP26 meeting on climate change in Glasgow, eliciting ambitious targets for slashing carbon emissions and expanding green industries.

That's still on the agenda, but the meeting will be dominated by covid-19, with discussions focusing on physical and economic recovery and building resilience against future pandemics. Lest anyone forget that the virus is still raging, there will be daily coronavirus tests for politicians, diplomats, staffers and journalists who are attending.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzWDIOA0_GE]

Even without the pandemic, this would be a moment of flux for the rich countries' club. It's a first G-7 summit for Biden and for Japan's Yoshihide Suga, who took office in September.

Suga said before leaving Tokyo that he would seek support for his determination to hold a "safe and secure" Olympics starting July 23 despite the pandemic. The games face strong opposition in Japan.

The meeting is also a G-7 swan song for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will leave office in the coming months after 16 years in power.

Asked what message Merkel wants to send at the summit, a senior German official replied: "The message of the summit overall -- and that stands for what the chancellor has stood for over recent years -- is that multilateralism, and the G-7, is back."

Information for this article was contributed by Geir Moulson, Angela Charlton and Danica Kirka of The Associated Press.

FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2019, file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second right, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel , center left, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, rear right, and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, southwestern France. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 25, 2019, file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron, center, U.S. President Donald Trump, right, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, second right, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, second left, German Chancellor Angela Merkel , center left, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, rear right, and European Council President Donald Tusk attend a session during the G7 summit in Biarritz, southwestern France. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (Philippe Wojazer/Pool via AP, File)
US President Joe Biden, right, talks with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, Thursday June 10, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
US President Joe Biden, right, talks with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, Thursday June 10, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
FILE - In this June 3, 2021, file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks with Debs Scott, Clinical lead for UCLH's mass vaccination centre, after receiving his second jab of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, at the Francis Crick Institute in London. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File)
FILE - In this June 3, 2021, file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks with Debs Scott, Clinical lead for UCLH's mass vaccination centre, after receiving his second jab of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, at the Francis Crick Institute in London. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, Pool, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2021, file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence, in Tokyo. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. It’s a first G-7 summit for Biden and Suga, who took office in September. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this May 14, 2021, file photo, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during a press conference at the prime minister's official residence, in Tokyo. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. It’s a first G-7 summit for Biden and Suga, who took office in September. (Yuichi Yamazaki/Pool Photo via AP, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, visits the Scottish Power Carland Cross Windfarm to view new construction on a solar farm in Newquay, Cornwall, England. Leaders of some of the world’s richest nations will be meeting at the English seaside for a three-day Group of Seven summit in a world that has changed hugely since their last gathering two years ago. Before the pandemic, Johnson planned this to be a climate-dominated summit. (AP Photo/Jon Super, Pool, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, visits the Scottish Power Carland Cross Windfarm to view new construction on a solar farm in Newquay, Cornwall, England. Leaders of some of the world’s richest nations will be meeting at the English seaside for a three-day Group of Seven summit in a world that has changed hugely since their last gathering two years ago. Before the pandemic, Johnson planned this to be a climate-dominated summit. (AP Photo/Jon Super, Pool, File)
US President Joe Biden, right, talks with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, Thursday June 10, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
US President Joe Biden, right, talks with Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall, Britain, Thursday June 10, 2021. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)
FILE - In this May 26, 2021, file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session in parliament in London. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FILE - In this May 26, 2021, file photo, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions session in parliament in London. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden listens as first lady Jill Biden speaks to American service members at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, President Joe Biden listens as first lady Jill Biden speaks to American service members at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool, File)
FILE - In this June 9, 2021, file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting of the German government at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. Helping countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic will be at the top of the agenda for the Group of Seven summit when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomes President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada to the cliff-ringed Carbis Bay beach resort in southwestern England on Friday, June 11. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool, File)
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