By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The Group of Seven (G7) nations have agreed to participate in a worldwide vaccination plan “to halt the coronavirus pandemic.” It comes amid concerns among G7 leaders that impoverished countries are being left out in the global jab drive. They also want a global tax as they seek to raise their contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of 100 billion dollars a year by rich countries to help poorer ones cut carbon emissions. And, the leaders made clear they will be seeking to rival China in reaching out to lower and middle-income countries.
There was a royal welcome for Joe Biden, who became the 13th U.S. President, to meet the British queen. His widely anticipated arrival in Cornwall, southwest England, came amid expressed hopes among those attending the gathering that Biden would be a more predictable partner than his predecessor Donald J. Trump.
The gathering was the first in-person G7 summit in nearly two years. It was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, which was an important topic. Biden and other leaders agreed to give away more than 1 billion vaccine doses, half of them by the U.S and the rest by others, including 100 million from Britain. Canada said it also would give 100 million doses, and France pledged 60 million.
They will work with the private sector and the Group of 20 industrialized nations and other countries to increase the contribution over months to come.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seemed pleased. “I actually think that this is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen because we need to make sure that we learn the lessons from the pandemic,” he said. “We need to make sure that we don’t repeat some of the errors that we doubtless made in the course of the last 18 months or so.”
Besides vaccinations, the G7 will try and get 40 million more girls into school worldwide, Johnson said, as part of efforts to make more women and girls participate in a rapidly changing world.
The G7 leaders also agreed on Sunday to raise their contributions to meet an overdue spending pledge of $100 billion a year by rich countries to help poorer ones cut carbon emissions. They claim it is part of efforts to deal with what they believe is the danger of global warming.
French President Emmanuel Macron said America is back to discuss these and other issues. “We have to face a lot of challenges, a lot of crises — climate change. And for all these issues, what we need is cooperation,” he said. “And I think it’s great to have the U.S. President part of the club and very willing to cooperate. And I think that what you — what you demonstrate is that leadership is a partnership,” he told Biden, with the sea nearby. “And — and we do appreciate it, and I think we can deliver great things for that.”
President Biden agreed. “I think we can do a lot, too. We — the United States, I’ve said before — we’re back. The U.S. is back. We feel very, very strongly about the cohesion of NATO,” he noted.
“And I, for one, think that the European Union is an incredibly strong and vibrant entity. That has a lot to do with the ability of Western Europe to not only handle its economic issues but provide the backbone and the support for [the] NATO [military alliance]. ”
The leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — also aim to show they are a better friend to poorer nations than authoritarian China.
The G7 adopted a plan to support lower- and middle-income countries in building better infrastructure. U.S. President Biden said he wanted his administration’s backed Build Back Better World plan to be a higher-quality alternative to a similar Chinese program. Beijing is increasing its economic and political footprint throughout the world.
The G7 said they would promote their values by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms in Xinjiang, where Beijing is accused of committing severe human rights abuses against the Uyghur minority and in the semi-autonomous city of Hong Kong. However, the final declaration was more muted regarding forced labor and other rights abuses than Biden wanted, with several countries expressing concern about the impact of harsh criticism on trade relations with China, Worthy News monitored.
The G7 will also introduce the first-ever 15 percent global corporate tax proposed by U.S. President Joe Biden, saying corporations should pay their “fair share of taxes.” Not all European Union countries agree, including Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has condemned the move.
Some tensions remained with the U.S. expressing worries about the stand-off between Britain and the EU over regulatory checks on goods going into Northern Ireland from Britain could threaten peace.
President Biden has a close interest in Ireland, given his ancestral roots, and has warned that rows must not jeopardize the Good Friday Agreement over trade. Prime Minister Johnson denied the summit was dominated by rows over Britain’s exit from the EU, saying the Brexit issue was a “vanishingly small” part of the meeting.
Between all the talks, there were some spiritual moments. In a seaside resort in England, churchgoers say they have been left “gobsmacked” when U.S. President Biden and the first lady Jill Biden dropped in for a Sunday service.
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