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Biden meets with G7 leaders in England, hoping to mend broken ties



ST. IVES, England – World leaders gather in southwest England for a summit of the Group of Seven Leading Economies, where rich countries plan to collectively donate one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations and President Biden hoped to make a marshal of world democracies against authoritarian states.

Mr Biden, during his first international trip as president, met with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain under a leaden sky on a beach in Cornwall.

The first G7 face-to-face meeting since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic will be dominated by how the Club of Wealthy Nations can pool resources to stem the spread of the virus in emerging economies and reaffirm the soft power of democratic nations in process.

“This is a meeting that really needs to happen,”

; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told leaders as they gathered around the table to discuss how to return from the pandemic. “We need to make sure that we do not repeat some of the mistakes we have undoubtedly made,” he added.

Leaders from other major democracies – South Korea, South Africa and Australia – will later attend the summit, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take part in a video link over the Covid-19 pandemic raging in his country.

The summit is one of the first major diplomatic outings for Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and one of the last for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Covid-19 crisis gives the meeting an obvious focus. Leaders can “look like superheroes to save the world,” said Robert Yates, project director at the Chatham House think tank. “This time they have a chance to actually do something.”

Since taking office, President Biden has called for the expansion of US global influence in everything from climate change to defense. The WSJ is exploring how it could use links with world leaders to help its foreign policy agenda during its first trip abroad. Photo: Phil Noble / Associated Press

Governments see the three-day summit as an opportunity to restore relations between friendly countries that were hurt during the Trump administration and to better counter the growing international confidence of China, Russia and other authoritarian states. However, the G-7 represents a declining share of the world economy: When it emerged in 1975, its members made up 70% of the world economy. Now they represent only 40%.

“I look forward to strengthening our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a fairer and more inclusive global economy,” Mr Biden tweeted before the meeting.

On Friday, leaders posed for a joint photo of the beach before attending a meeting on global pandemic recovery efforts. They will gather in the evening with members of the British royal family at the Eden Project, an ecological attraction for visitors.

“We need to make sure that we are now allowing our economies to recover, and I think they have the potential to bounce back very strongly,” Mr Johnson said at the start of the G7 pandemic recovery session.

“We are building better together again,” he added

The prime minister then asked the media to leave so that the leaders could speak, saying that the event was supposed to be a “chat by the fire”, but it became a “giant media circus”.

During the three days, the leaders will discuss environmental and climate issues, economic sustainability, foreign policy and health. They will also push for an increase in the number of Covid-19 vaccines available to poor countries.

Mr Johnson’s office said on Thursday that Britain would donate 100 million overdoses of vaccines to the rest of the world next year, part of broader pressure to donate one billion doses to countries struggling to vaccinate their populations. Mr. Biden announced that the United States will donate 500 million photos developed by BioNTech SE and Pfizer Inc.

until next June.

Mr Biden and other leaders are also expected to support the global minimum tax proposal, which their finance ministers backed last week. The idea is to set a minimum tax – at least 15%, although the US will increase – on corporate taxes, to limit the benefits that companies can derive from using low-tax jurisdictions.

The agreement between richer countries, which already have higher tax rates, faces obstacles as G-7 countries try to sell it around the world. And enforcement and security will be difficult.

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The tax agreement is central to Mr Biden’s internal agenda. The more Mr. Biden can get other countries to raise their tax rates, the more the United States can raise taxes on foreign profits of US-based companies without making the maintenance of US headquarters too unfavorable.

Mr Biden has proposed raising corporate taxes and using the money to pay for his infrastructure plan, although it could also be used for his family spending plan as Democrats fight other tax increases.

Ms Merkel will visit the White House to meet with Mr. Biden on July 15, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The two leaders will discuss the global response to the pandemic, climate change, the economy and international security, Ms Psaki said.

“Chancellor Merkel’s visit will strengthen the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany,” Ms. Psaki said.

After leaving Britain, Mr Biden will later meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Asked on Friday what his message would be to Mr Putin, Mr Biden said: “I will tell you when I send it.”

Biden visits Europe

More coverage of the president’s trip chosen by the editors.

Write to Andrew Restucha at andrew.restuccia@wsj.com and Max Colchester at max.colchester@wsj.com

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