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The new guy? Biden makes his debut at the democracy’s most exclusive club

WASHINGTON – Angela, Boris, Emmanuel, Justin, Mario, Yoshihide and a relative newcomer: Joe.

They are the board of directors of Global Democracy’s most exclusive club, and they meet this week after four years of American disruption and a two-year interruption of coronavirus.

Already on a first name basis with relationships ranging from just months to years, the leaders of the group of seven industrialized democracies gather on Friday in hopes that the departure of their most troubled members and a new era of personal friendships can be enhanced by face-to-face discussions. restore a global anti-authoritarian consensus on climate, coronavirus, China and Russia.

The G-7̵

7;s return to polite quasi-normality comes as President Joe Biden seeks to restore a stable US leadership to the bloc that had been hampered by his predecessor Donald Trump’s often confrontational approach to longtime US allies. U.S. officials believe Biden’s decades of experience in foreign policy combined with his personal skills and popular behavior will ease lingering anger.

Trump had thrown a wrench into the G-7 unit, demanding the absolute priority of US interests, threatening decades-old security guarantees, insulting colleagues and loudly proposing that Russian President Vladimir Putin be invited back to the group despite his rejection of meeting the requirements of Moscow to stay out of Ukraine.

World leaders are preparing to launch a working session on world economics and trade on the second day of the G-7 Summit on 25 August 2019.
World leaders are preparing to launch a working session on world economics and trade on the second day of the G-7 Summit on 25 August 2019.

Biden aims to take a new thank you. Asked about his goal after leaving Washington, Biden replied: “Strengthen the alliance and make it clear to Putin and China that Europe and the United States are tight and the G-7 will move.”

Of the seven leaders meeting on Friday in Britain’s south-west Cornwall, two are novices. Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi took office within a few weeks in a row this year.

Two others have been in power for two years or less: Britain’s Boris Johnson since 2019 and Japan’s Yoshihide Suga since 2020. Yet the other three have a long history together, some with Biden dating to his days in the Senate and as vice president.

Germany’s Angela Merkel will attend her last G-7 summit before resigning as chancellor in September after 16 years. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been in office since 2015 and French President Emmanuel Macron since 2017. All had famous testy relations with Trump over trade, defense spending, climate change and other issues.

Trump once accused Trudeau of being “very dishonest and weak” in a G-7 summit. He often similarly disgraced Merkel and Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May and condemned Macron’s skepticism of NATO capabilities as “ugly” and “insulting.” Johnson was the exception when Trump saw him as a family iconoclastic spirit.

The open hostility prevented the group’s ability to present a united front. Biden hopes to reassure these conditions on his first trip abroad as president.

Since joining, Biden has only met one of his G-7 colleagues, Suga. But in virtual sessions and phone calls, he has tried to build on his personal connections with the others and has said he wants more personal meetings.

“There is no substitute for face-to-face discussions,” Biden told Suga when they met at the White House in April. “These personal bonds of friendship and connection, they are the ones that will keep this alliance strong and alive for decades to come.”

Good relations “make it easier to do business,” said Ronald Neumann, president of the American Academy of Diplomacy and a retired three-time U.S. ambassador.

“You do not find that people will act against what they perceive as their interests just because they are friends, but that means it is easier to have conversations to find out if there are ways to bring interests closer. each other, ”he said.

That did not happen in the Trump years. “My feeling is that we were not very interested in exploring areas for compromise – we were interested in getting or rather telling the others to do things our way,” Neumann said.

Since Biden has pursued some policies identical to Trumps, he has met far less opposition than his predecessor, especially in gaining support for the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just weeks before Biden announced that he had generally decided to stick to Trump’s withdrawal plan, US allies had warned against any violent movement.

Similarly, Biden’s reversal of Trump’s approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada was met with only a subdued response from Ottawa in the midst of the new president’s outreach to Trudeau. “The United States has no closer friend – no closer friend – than Canada. That’s why you were my first call as president, ”Biden told Trudeau.

On Wednesday, however, the sponsor of the Keystone XL pulled the plug on the project after Canadian officials could not persuade Biden to reverse his cancellation of the permit the day he took office.

Biden and Macron meet for the first time in person, and French officials said Macron is eager to build on discussions they have had over the phone and video. One centrist, Macron, made no secret of the fact that he expected Biden’s election to bring the United States’ position closer to France’s vis-à-vis the Paris Climate Agreement, a minimum of global corporation tax and global security issues.

But perhaps no G-7 leader has been a greater recipient than Merkel, the group’s doyenne. Biden seized on Trump’s decision to reduce the US military presence in Germany and used a national security exemption to avoid hitting a German company and its CEO with sanctions over a controversial pipeline.

“It is a fundamental truth of foreign policy that each country has its own values ​​and interests. But then, of course, there is also the difficult goal factor that can be formed between two-party leaders – or sometimes not formed, “said Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert. “And of course it is better if it is formed, if you have a common culture of dialogue, if you listen to each other, if you also try to understand the other person’s attitude and beliefs.”

Johnson, meanwhile, is keen to ensure Biden remains committed to the Washington-London comity, especially as he continues to seek preferential trade status after Brexit with America, which was almost guaranteed under Trump.

Trump had unequivocally praised Johnson and Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, calling him “Britain’s Trump.” Biden had reacted in nature as a candidate, calling the British leader a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump. Yet the British government has worked hard to overcome this impression, emphasizing Johnson’s common ground with Biden on issues such as climate change and his support for international institutions.

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