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The G7 summit kicks off today - here's everything you need to know

This will be the first time the leaders have met in almost two years due to Covid-19.

g7-summit US President Joe Biden talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during their meeting ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall Source: Toby Melville via PA Images

LEADERS FROM AROUND the world are to gather in Cornwall, England today for the G7 summit. 

This will be the first time the leaders have met in almost two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the fight against the virus will be one of the main items on the agenda. 

The Group of Seven countries brings together some of the world’s richest democracies – the UK, the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, along with representatives of the European Union. 

The UK currently holds the rotating presidency, so it has responsibility for hosting the summit, which will take place from today until Sunday at Carbis Bay in Cornwall.

Who are the leaders attending this year’s event? 

Along with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, Japan’s Yoshihide Suga, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Italy’s Mario Draghi will represent their countries.

The European Union will be represented by commission president Ursula von der Leyen and council president Charles Michel.

Australia’s prime minister Scott Morrison, South Korean president Moon Jae-in and South African president Cyril Ramaphosa will all attend as guests, while India’s Narendra Modi will participate via video link due to the coronavirus crisis.

Other than Covid-19, what will be on the agenda? 

This is Biden’s first overseas visit as US President and he will use the visit to try to build an alliance of democracies as a counterweight to China, with the White House saying they expect G7 leaders to announce a new initiative to provide financing for physical, digital and health infrastructure in the developing world as an alternative to the “belt and road” measures offered by Beijing.

The leaders are also expected to discuss issues including climate change and getting more children into education around the world.

And, of course, there’s Brexit. The ongoing row between the European Union and the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol is likely to loom large. 

Unusually for a summit of leaders, the UK’s Brexit Minister David Frost will be in attendance and Johnson will hold talks with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen as well as the leaders of France, Germany and Italy.

g7-summit US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive on Air Force One at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, ahead of the G7 summit in Cornwall Source: PA Images

Biden has also taken an interest in the issue in recent days. 

The scale of the US president’s unease about the UK’s approach to the Protocol was revealed in a leaked memo which showed the president took the extraordinary step of ordering the United States’ most senior diplomat in London, Yael Lempert, to deliver a demarche – a formal protest – in a meeting with Brexit minister David Frost on 3 June.

The Times newspaper reported that Government minutes of the meeting said: “Lempert implied that the UK had been inflaming the rhetoric, by asking if he would keep it ‘cool’.”

The US charge d’affaires indicated that if Johnson accepted demands to follow EU rules on agricultural standards, Biden would ensure it would not “negatively affect the chances of reaching a US/UK free trade deal”.

Downing Street did not deny the encounter took place. A No 10 spokesman said: “I don’t think you would expect me to get into discussions with other countries.”

Speaking after a meeting with Biden yesterday evening, Johnson sought to play down differences with Biden, claiming the new US President was a “breath of fresh air” and insisting there was “absolutely common ground” over Northern Ireland. 

Asked if Biden made his alarm about the situation in Northern Ireland clear, Boris Johnson said: “No, he didn’t.

“What I can say is that America – the United States, Washington – the UK plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do and that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going.

“That’s absolutely common ground and I’m optimistic that we can do that.”

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Are protests expected over the weekend?

Extinction Rebellion activists have promised a series of demonstrations to call on the G7 to do more to tackle climate change.

The Kill the Bill movement will also protest against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

Security is expected to be very tight. Some 5,000 extra officers from around England have been drafted in to support Devon and Cornwall Police.

In total, 6,500 officers and staff will be deployed in the operation, with 1,000 of them effectively living on a ship moored in Falmouth.

With reporting by Press Association

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