Biden, G-7 Leaders Get Back to In-Person Diplomacy, Meet Queen Elizabeth

CARBIS BAY, England—Face-to-face diplomacy returned on Friday for the leaders of the Group of Seven club of rich nations after a gap of more than a year as they focused on how to foster recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and push back against increasingly assertive authoritarian states.



chatted and elbow bumped with other leaders at the summit at this resort in the southwest of England as they sat down together and in a host of bilateral meetings.

“This is a meeting that genuinely needs to happen,” British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson

told the leaders as they gathered around a table. “We need to make sure we don’t repeat some of the errors we doubtless made,” he added.

Mr. Biden, on his first international trip as president, met with the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the European Union and the U.K. under a leaden sky in a seafront hotel.

The initial outcome on Sunday will be a lengthy statement on a raft of international issues. According to an official from one G-7 country, governments were debating whether the statement should explicitly criticize China in the face of reluctance from some European leaders.

World leaders on Friday posed for a portrait at the G-7 summit.


Leon Neal/press pool

The leaders pledged their countries will donate more than one billion vaccine doses to developing countries, the White House said.

The formal proceedings began with a photo of the leaders on the beach before their round table focused on how to build back their economies from the virus. They later met with Queen Elizabeth and other members of Britain’s royal family at a reception before gathering for dinner.

Following months of video diplomacy, the leaders appeared to enjoy getting close to one another again. French President

Emmanuel Macron

was spotted with his arm around Mr. Biden as they strolled away from the beach.

Leaders from other major democracies—South Korea, South Africa and Australia—will later attend the summit while Indian Prime Minister

Narendra Modi

will participate via video link because of the Covid-19 pandemic raging through 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.

Since taking office, President Biden has pushed to expand the U.S.’s global influence in everything from climate change to defense. WSJ looks at how he could leverage ties with world leaders to help his foreign policy agenda during his first trip overseas. Photo: Phil Noble/Associated Press

The Covid-19 crisis gives the meeting an obvious focal point. The leaders can “appear as superheroes to save the world,” says

Robert Yates,

a project director at think tank Chatham House. “This time they’ve got a chance to actually do something.”

The governments see the three-day summit as an opportunity to rebuild relations among friendly states that were bruised during the Trump administration and to better confront the growing international assertiveness of China, Russia and other authoritarian states. The G-7, however, makes up a shrinking share of the world economy. When it emerged in 1975, its members made up 70% of the global economy. Now, they account for just 40%.

“I’m looking forward to reinforcing our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a more fair and inclusive global economy,” Mr. Biden tweeted ahead of the meeting.

“We need to make sure that we now allow our economies to recover and I think they have potential to bounce back very strongly,” Mr. Johnson said at the beginning of the G-7 session on recovering from the pandemic.

“We’re building back better together,” he added

The prime minister then asked the media to leave so the leaders could speak, saying the event was supposed to be a “fireside chat” but has turned into a “gigantic media circus.”

Over the three days, the leaders will discuss environmental and climate issues, economic resilience, foreign policy and health.

As part of their efforts to expand the number of Covid-19 vaccines available to poor countries, Mr. Johnson’s office said Thursday that the U.K. would donate 100 million surplus vaccine doses to the rest of the world within the next year. That will contribute to the G-7 donation of more than one billion doses to countries that have struggled to vaccinate their populations. Mr. Biden previously announced that the U.S. would donate 500 million shots developed by


SE and

Pfizer Inc.

by next June.

Mr. Biden and the other leaders also were expected to back the global minimum tax proposal for corporations that their finance ministers supported last week. The idea is to set a floor—at least 15%, though the U.S. would go higher—on corporate taxes that would limit the benefits companies could get from using low-tax jurisdictions.

The agreement among wealthier countries that already have higher tax rates faces obstacles as the G-7 nations try to sell it around the world. And implementing and policing it will be difficult.


What would you like to see come out of the G-7 summit? Join the conversation below.

The tax agreement is central to Mr. Biden’s domestic agenda. The more Mr. Biden can get other countries to lift their tax rates, the more the U.S. can raise taxes on U.S.-based companies’ foreign earnings without making maintaining U.S. headquarters too much of a disadvantage.

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

Ms. Merkel will visit the White House to meet with Mr. Biden on July 15, White House press secretary

Jen Psaki

said in a statement.

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 affirm the deep bilateral ties between the United States and Germany,” Ms. Psaki said.

Mr. Biden will meet later this week with Russian President

Vladimir Putin

in Switzerland. When asked Friday what his message to Mr. Putin would be, Mr. Biden responded: “I’ll tell you after I deliver it.”

French President Emmanuel Macron and President Biden, right, walked together at the G-7 meeting.


Phil Noble/press pool

Biden Visits Europe

More coverage of the president’s trip, selected by the editors.

Write to Andrew Restuccia at and Max Colchester at

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